Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Radical Redemption

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Redemption is extreme and radical. In 1987 a baby named Jessica fell into a back yard well and got stuck. Immediately a community organized to extricate her, and 58 hours later she was rescued with very minor injuries. The event was made into a television movie and made international news.

But every time a sinner is rescued from eternal punishment and death, why don’t we make more of it? Could it indicate we believe it more on a doctrinal basis rather than a tangible reality? But if we actually process what redemption is in quality, quantity, and eternally, it is profoundly more radical than anything else on earth. Sadly, though, we have become experts in fruit testing and amateur fruit bearers.

Sinners repulse us, and yet they are the redemptive targets of the Spirit we claim lives within us. What a paradox, the Holy Spirit seeks the redemption of sinners and yet many Christians castigate and demean lost sinners, the same sinners the Spirit inside them seeks for Jesus’ sake. Let me investigate another aspect of redemption.

A man buys a lottery ticket and wins 30 million dollars. He puts the money in the bank and until his death years later his lifestyle doesn’t change. In fact he is unrecognizable in the midst of society. He has just experienced a radical change in his financial status and yet with no tangible residual effects. But Jesus says “forsake all”. What??

A sinner believes on Jesus as his Lord and Savior. And after that eternity changing experience his life is no different than the Mormon down the street, or the conservative good guy, or even the affable humanitarian. The radical nature of his redemption doesn’t seem to translate into a radical lifestyle. He still borrows money; he still overeats; he still judges others; he still saves up lots of money; and he generally lives the quintessential western experience.

And we love to read the inspirational stories of the persecution of early believers and their God honoring stories of faithfulness and martyrdom. But the inspiration dissipates quickly without any residual effects. We are blind to our calling in this generation. We may not be called to be eaten by lions, but we are being called to a passion to live and love like Jesus Christ. Our lives should be conspicuous by their material temperance, kingdom focus, and a remarkable projection of Jesus and His attributes. To be known for what we are against is a self righteous construct that countermands the cross of Christ itself.

Jesus will one day be the Judge of all creation, however in this age we are followers of the Redeemer. We should be radical in our projection of Him. We should have a fire of redemptive love burning in our bosoms for all sinners. Do we passionately love Rosie O’Donnell? President Obama? Madonna? Barney Frank? The vilest gay sinner? If these people repulse you then you are void of Jesus and His cross. Do you suspect that you were any better before God’s grace found you?

But instead of being radically redemptive, we are interested in protecting our moral perspectives. That is not radical; that is safe self righteousness. How many believers today are accused of consorting with known sinners? Which orthodox pastors are being attacked because they fellowship with notorious and repulsive sinners who are even targets of religious castigation? Think of what would be said of a famous “orthodox” preacher if he was having dinner from time to time with Rosie O’Donnell, Marilyn Manson, or Madonna? He would be roundly roasted as a compromiser. Jesus would not be considered “orthodox” in this morally elitist evangelical climate.

Jesus said if He would be lifted up He would draw sinners to Himself. And even while quoting that we run from sinners, raining verbal stones down upon them. Why have we constructed a religious system that is diametrically opposed to the gospel itself? And instead of walking a life that resists the culture and is radically apolitical, in favor of the physical and spiritual needs of people, we have assimilated into a western society that rewards power, wealth, and superiority in many different genres. In short, we have become a segment of western culture that is mostly a curiosity, an irritant, or even just another political seat at the overall table. In reality, based upon what we believe and Who we follow, we should be a demonstrative revelation of Jesus Christ through a combination of the shared gospel and the power of an idiosyncratic lifestyle that is remarkably different than the cultural norm. By definition – radically redemptive.
Are we radical? Are we redemptive? Who are we, really?
What would you consider radical among our culture?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is refreshing to read your challenges. Popular Christianity avoids the “old-time religion,” which is a lifestyle containing godly separation from this world. I am glad that you have the spiritual perception and the intellect to describe it succinctly in your essay. Thank you.

So you’ve pointed out how popular Christianity’s lifestyle is lacking. In my opinion, the proper lifestyle would be the natural result of a personal love-relationship with Jesus Christ. In the book of Matthew for example, the disciples of John the Baptist scorned the lifestyle of the disciples of Jesus. They felt the disciples of Jesus were not radical enough. For all their scorn, the disciples of John the Baptist missed the real point of a separated lifestyle. They put the cart before the horse as it were. We know this because they later questioned whether Jesus really was Who they originally proclaimed Him to be(the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world).

Here’s a radical motto used by many professing Christians: WWJD. We all know the acronym. The mnemonic device has become a popular reminder for many believers. Unfortunately it is blasphemy. For it presupposes a distant relationship. It rejects the Divine within. That moment-by-moment ethos of the Christian. It distorts the fundamental foundations of the Salvation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20 now reads, I was at one time crucified with Christ, and I live, and Christ lives somewhere up in heaven, but I live by guessing what Jesus would do. Phil 4:13 now reads, I can do all things…provided that I have a mental picture in my mind of what Jesus might do. Phil 2:13 now reads, for it is I that worketh in me to will and to do. Sure, the believer might do the right thing. Bastard works is what it is.

JWWTHMD is a proper acronym. It puts the horse before the cart and will result in a separated radical Christ-like lifestyle. Jesus, what wouldst thou have me do?