Being a “Radical” Christian

One thing that I understand, that Truth is pure, that it is vast, that it never changes, and that we can only glimpse into its eyes moments at a time, lest we be blinded.  Therefore, it only stands to reason that all whom behold Truth know something about it, from their perspective.  If all who come to Truth see the same, unchanging beauty of it, then why do we differ in what we behold?  The answer is simple:  We all behold the same Truth, but each person sees only one part of the whole.  As a Christian, each person has an intimate experience with their Creator and that
experience shares common ground with every other Christian.  But, we are all unique and therefore each experience is a little different and sometimes a lot different.  Hence, the beauty of what is referred to as the “body of Christ”.  It is astounding to meditate on the spiritual implications of the imagery, practicality, and sheer divine genius of the “body of Christ”.  Be as it may, too many times we are convinced that our brand of Truth is the only true version.  The synthesis of Truth is our calling, and that divine calling is unity.  So, I humbly approach this commentary with the sole purpose of not criticizing but rather to amplify.  To give a little piece of what I have learned to help make it “whole”-er.  This is a commentary on the book “Radical” by David Platt…a great read.

God doesn’t need or want your money, service, or accolades; He wants you…all of you.  I ask you to open your mind and your imagination and let your heart open on its own.  God is a relationship being.  Scripture is the grand history of a relationship.  He created us to have a loving relationship with Himself, to walk with us and talk with us and commune with us.  But, in order for there to be true love, there has to be a choice to love; for what value is a heart that is created without a choice to love, but rather lives under a command to love?  The absolute essence and beauty of love is to choose to love:  that it is passed willingly and shared, completing the circle.  Free will is one part of what makes us “created in His image”.  If we were created without His image, then we would simply be subject to His commands only; and there is no love in that.  Free will has also distanced us from God:  Adam made a “bad” choice that affects us all.  Since the fall, we all have as individuals a choice that has far reaching ramifications for the rest of our lives.  When and if a person chooses to “seek His face” then the magic begins.  God can’t
make us love Him.

We may say that we love God, but do we even understand love?  We set out on a journey founded in the possible discovery of God, His possible love for us, and with the hope that Whom we seek is good.  It’s all about discovering love.  God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.  That means that if we seek, we will find.  The journey is on this earth and is in the “here and now”.  Once a person seeking God even begins to understand the depth and width and breadth of His love for the individual, it buckles the knees and that person cannot help but to fall down in adoration and awe.  Throughout history, every Christian’s testimony is the same:  beholding God’s love drops us to our knees.  Then, for the first time, we taste the love of God…and it is good.  All of a sudden, you discover your piece of Truth; different from anyone else’s and yet the same in its overwhelming magnificence.  You are one of God’s lovers; He is blessed by your loving Him back.  This creates a new being, one that is “born again” into a new realm of reality.  What your mind perceived as legends and myths and stories all become true because you are now “in the story” and the veil has been lifted (we once were blind, but now we see).  Proof and faith is in the presence of God, the seeking was an urging or a “prick in the heart” that awakened the divine self to Truth and forever places the seeker into a dueling reality.  Once a person has partaken of the living waters, they are now satisfied with nothing else.  Oh, we try substitutes, but in the end, nothing else will quench our thirst.  This is the fire within:  the burning desire for God and God alone.  Through that desire, all forms of beauty emerge.  When that burning desire is alive and growing, God works miracles through our lives; when that burning degrades into a small fire, we warm ourselves and sometimes others by gathering close to it; and when that small fire turns into a smoldering ember, we can function “properly” in the world again!  Our Lover becomes more of a sweet memory, and the fire devolves from a painful ache deep inside to a cloudy promise of love afar off.

Being “radical” is allowing that fire to grow and ultimately consume you.  If you allow it, His fire will slowly melt away everything about you and yet somehow complete you at the same time.  It is hard to put spiritual matters into words, but we can at least trace shadows of its beauty.  So I continue to trace what is too bright to behold.   We have heard that God changes you from the inside out; it is more appropriate to say that God consumes you from the inside out.   This is true:  we are unworthy to be in the Fathers presence; He would consume us to our death.  One-third
of Ultimate Truth (sorry for the awkward mathematical expression…it is the best I can do) is Christ Jesus: only through Christ are we allowed entrance into the presence of the Father.  He paid the price that we were unable to pay; He is the way, the truth, and the life.  This is how we enter the gate to the path of seeking audience with God and more importantly, His love for us.  Through Christ, we now can boldly come before the Father.  And this allows the Father to give to us the ultimate gift for a human being:  the gift of His Holy Spirit:  The gift of the flame.  What we do with this gift is at the core of what being a Christian means.  The mystery of the trinity is best left to those who can better describe its shadows.  But this part is true:  each part of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) each have their own “personality” and yet glorify and complete each other.  The fact of the matter, according to God Himself, is that today the following scenario exists:  Jesus is not here on earth (He said, “You will seek me, but not find Me”), but “He prayed the Father” to send His Holy Spirit to those who believe in Jesus.  That is what we have as a promise:  that Christ can live within us in the form of the Holy Spirit.  If a person were to study and meditate on the Book of John and walk away from that love letter without  understanding the new covenant, there may not be hope for that person…The promise of God’s own Holy Spirit: the same that overcame prophets and caused them to speak, the same that empowered Christ Himself, the same that teaches wisdom, and the same that burns Truth into the hearts of all who trust in Him who is faithful.  The Spirit is the fire within;  it allows entrance into power because it is God’s power, ordained for us who place our faith in Christ.  With the power of Christ’s testimony coupled with the gift of His Holy Spirit, the early church changed the world forever. With the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing less than the miraculous would do…That’s radical!

Jesus is the gateway to the Father and resides at this very moment in heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand.  Remember, Christ is 100% human (as well as 100% divine {I know, it’s hard to grasp}) and therefore cannot be in two places at the same time.  But, the Holy Spirit can be and is everywhere because He lives inside each one of us who, through Jesus, have come into the light of His love.  Christ Himself spoke of the spirit as being like the wind.  So, in a clumsy nutshell, it is God’s love for us that draws us and sustains us; we come by way of a King named Jesus; and we are led by the Holy Spirit, which is an assurance that we are His.  The new covenant starts and finishes with love:  “For God so loved the world, that He…”; Jesus taught that the most important commandment is to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then your fellow man as yourself; but we are incapable of true love without His Holy Spirit (“The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit”); the only choice for us is this:  do we choose to know God or not.  The reasoning is obvious:  to know Him is to love Him.  If we do choose Him, then we must choose to submit to His Holy Spirit.  In today’s world, it seems many will submit to the Father or to Christ Jesus, but shy away from the One that is appropriated for this age!  To truly submit to one is to submit to all, but if you don’t believe in the power of the Holy Spirit as described in the New Testament, then you limit your experience and His power (just look in the Scriptures as Jesus couldn’t do many miracles where unbelief reigned).  The Scriptures teach that God’s desire is man, and when man’s desire for God is reciprocated, everything changes.  He blesses us, but also…we bless Him!  Again, radical.

In David Platt’s book, Radical, I applaud this man of God for his approach to modern, American Christianity.  David stands with a unique perspective to Truth because of who he is and where God has led him.  The only problem, that I can see, is that Mr. Platt takes some things for granted that most Christians most likely do not understand.  From his perspective, he sees a great need in himself and a great need in the church.  What is taken for granted by Mr. Platt is that every Christian has their spiritual house in order, insofar as they would understand what drives ministry.  We don’t drive ministry, the Holy Spirit does.   In the book, we are challenged by having to make a choice of all or nothing as it pertains to our commitment to Christ and His great commission.  The choice, however, must be driven by love.  There is very little about love in his book, but I think he may have taken that for granted.  He shouldn’t have.  But then again, the book would be on a different subject…wouldn’t it?  The real radical truth is this:  before a person commits themself to God wholly, all is vanity.  The source for power and the impetus for change comes through a one-on-one with God…a personal and real relationship.  God is a jealous god.  We shouldn’t put service first, or the church first, or anything else before God.  First and foremost, we each individually need to be consumed by the fire within, the engine, if you will, to all service and ministry.  Because He supplies the power, we must go to Him for that power; we cannot do it by ourselves even if we believe in Christ!  Belief leads you to the door, but few open the door of faith (a gift) and keep it open.  What is lost is that our primary focus was, is and always will be our reconciliation back into His love…not as a church, but as individuals (eventually, we will be presented as a body, but not now…the body is not complete or sanctified as yet…I know this will change sooner than later).  The ultimate radical act is to surrender to God completely.

All power comes from this surrender; God’s desire for your life is to love Him!  Once bathed in that love of total surrender, with no reservations, God’s plan can now be done in your life and ultimately to those He brings us to love or takes us to love.  Without love, the whole system breaks down.  That fire of God’s presence in the form of His Holy Spirit inside of you is meant to burn away all other desires:  the desire of self, the desire for others, the desire to succeed, the desire to be loved by anyone or anything else besides Him.  That is what is meant by “putting God first”.  From this point, God will direct our paths and quicken our hearts for others…it is truly a supernatural way of life.  Once a person has tasted living waters, nothing else will do!  We allow God’s love to fill us and we are overwhelmed.  We fill to capacity and as the “cup runneth over” it spills into the lives of others.  An awesome design…you can’t make this stuff up.  Without the filling of the Holy Spirit’s love and power, we are simply going through the motions (just ask Peter).  As the fire consumes our “selves”, money is nothing to us, material things are nothing, and even our own families become nothing to us.  Why?  Because we realize that in order to keep all that we value, cherish and love, we must give it back to the One whom it belongs; these are the sacrifices of praise we gladly give to our loving God.

We should gladly give our money, our time, and our very lives for the King of Kings; but to do so before coming into a loving relationship with our Creator is vanity.  Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”.  So good intentions of wanting to obey Christ in His great commission take center stage in Radical instead of what should be center stage:  our submitting to God in love, each of us, allowing the Holy Spirit to consume us and empower us for service.  We let go of everything, so we may receive the fullness of His grace. But even the letting go involves beholding His love until we want nothing more!

All that being said,  every Christian is sanctified by the blood of Christ, and every person’s journey is different.  If a person that reads Platt’s book is convicted and moved to act, then that person will inevitably be brought to the above truths, because their real yearnings are for a closer walk with God (whether they know it or not).  In the same manner, someone may be convicted by the fear of going to hell and another may be drawn by the thought of living in heaven; it doesn’t matter where you start, you will eventually end up in God’s loving embrace.  But, thinking that by obeying God’s call to service (or any other type of religious sacrifice) can save you…you are wrong! If you think that by following Christ’s commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, that you are in good standing with God…you are wrong!  Obeying the first commandment to love God with everything that you are is primary, and the obedience comes naturally.  He wants you, all of you; and in return, He gives you life beyond your wildest imaginations!  We all arrive at the core of radical truth one way or another and each in our own time:  we must allow God through His Holy Spirit to consume us.  But alas, it is a crossroads where God allows us to make a decision for ourselves; He never has and never will interfere with your right to choose.  Are we ready for such a personal, individual game-plan as distinct members of the body of Christ?  If we were, then the landscape of modern American Christianity really would be radical…

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2 thoughts on “Being a “Radical” Christian

  1. What you have written has sparked something in my heart that I can only describe as that same fire, that same wind…that same power of the Holy Spirit. How right on target your are, dear brother.

    I read the book of Zechariah toady…it is not long. As I read, sometimes the OT is like a story without too much relevance to me, in this life, at this moment you know. I read how God changed his course of action towards Judah and Israel…an oft repeated story…God loves and blesses and gives a way to be WITH Him…they do it for awhile, somehow become terribly filled with something other than love and gratitude and turn their backs…God is angered at their disobedience, turns the blessings into curses…and they suffer…and suffer…and suffer…then…something amazing happens…God changes His mind…

    the cycle seems endless as one reads the OT. He has been doing it for centuries with these folks and He has been doing it in my life as well for as long as I can remember…who of us cannot claim the prodigal story, whether we would want to admit it or not…it is true of all of us.

    Tonight as I read your post, the whole story I read today came forward with other such stories and the reality of what I felt and sensed this afternoon…God has created us to…love…Him…to be with…Him..and He has made the way for us to do that very thing…crystallized in my mind’s eye and in my heart and spirit…

    I wonder what it is about God that makes Him want to be with me…? Well, since He made me in His image, that could hold a clue or two, but the fact that He would WANT to have a relationship with me just blows my mind.

    I do wish I had a way to express better and more fully what has happened, but if I just read your post again, I won’t have to. Such beauty and grace…God has given you a means to share with us His character and His goodness, as well as His humor…thank you again for your work, it means so very much to me and many others I am certain…

    Thanks my brother, thanks so much for what you are doing…

    • A lovely, heartfelt comment Mark. I am so pleased that your heart was touched. I always go back to the fact that “it is the goodness of God that brings a man to repentance”. When I thought of God as a task-master and someone who was just waiting for me to screw up so He could whack me, I drifted farther and farther from Him. In my darkest hour, He just showed up and told me that He loved me. I could not imagine that He could love me after all I had done and how I had turned my back on Him. He just repeated, “I love you”…that is what changed my life. As many of my readers know, I struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism for most of my life, and my life was a roller coaster ride of up’s and mostly down’s. I knew OF God, I knew OF Christ, I had a general knowledge of the Holy Spirit…but I never KNEW God. Once He reached down to me and showed such compassion, it changed me forever. I have been sober now 5 years on August 8th…no preaching could reach me, fear of hell could not reach me, my ruined life could not get my attention, the wake of lives I had negatively affected could not change me; the only reason I am joyful, sober, and peaceful now is because God in His mercy showed me how much He loved me. All I want out of life now is to be an instrument in His hand to point people in the direction of a loving and passionate God. I suffered in bondage most of my life…now I am truly free!
      I live a pleasing life to God not because I have to but because I want to…I don’t practice sin because I crave His presence. I cannot enjoy my fellowship and love affair with my God if I choose to live without Him…even for one day. I want people to know that the reason I am changed is because life with the Holy Spirit is better than any drug, any buzz, or any other cheap substitute. God is the ultimate “high”!
      One thing I can say in certainty: being on fire for God always gets better and the time with Him gets more and more pleasurable…drugs and alcohol felt good at the beginning, but then we chase that “first feeling” for the rest of our time with our harlot of choice…it always takes more of us and we get less in return. The Lord is an infinitely ascending experience that I hope more and more people come to realize.
      I sincerely appreciate your comments as usual, but this one hits very close to home for me…I have been blessed by it!
      May the Lord grant you peace, joy, and most of all love.

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