Saturday, March 02, 2013

You want radical?

I've been thinking about this post for a while. Due to an article in the most recent Christianity Today combined with some comments from some young women I know, and more quality time with Legos have moved it to the top of the list for posting.

There is a part of me that really likes the group of books such as Radical which calls for Christians to stand out from the cultural norm in a noticeable and surprising way. It's a call, in essence, to put your money where your mouth is. Don't we all want to be so different, so transformed, that other people can't help to see Jesus shining through us? But the other part of me feels as though it is almost asking people to prove their commitment to Jesus. This paragraph, in the article, "Here Come the Radicals!" by Matthew Lee Anderson in the March 2013 issue, really struck me. It says,

"By contrast, there aren't many narratives of men who rise at 4 a.m. six days a week to toil away in a factory to support their families. Or of single mothers who work 10 hours a day to care for their children. Judging by the tenor of their stories, being 'radical' is mainly for those who already have the upper-middle-class status to sacrifice."

And it makes me wonder why a man stepping up to support his family isn't also considered radical. Or why a woman who stays home with her children and dealing with bodily fluids on a daily basis isn't considered radical. Or why I have heard from more than one young woman that there is no way she could be following God's will in a big way if she ends up married and living the suburbs. The suburbs! The horror!

It sometimes feels as though the only way to be radical is to serve overseas, or move to the inner city, or do something equally 'big'. While I don't discount that there are people who are called to do these things, I also don't want to fall into the trap of thinking what people do doesn't count if it doesn't fall into these parameters.

Because, you know, we aren't the ones who get to decide how someone is or isn't following God's calling and bending their will to His. And I will admit that I am very good at internally deciding whether someone measures up or not. But God is good and corrects those He loves in order to bring them closer to Him. And I have been humbled in this respect. Recently, God has impressed upon me how others are quietly serving Him, in ways I didn't know about. It is flashy or big or something that draws attention to them. But these servants are quietly doing things that share God's love with others and make no fuss about it or draw attention to themselves. Yet I am humbled by how they serve because they are serving in ways that either don't occur to me or in ways that would make me very uncomfortable.

So if you really want to be radical, it is being willing to do what God puts in front of you at any given time. For a season, that might mean that God is calling you to care for your children, to be up at night, to change a lot of diapers and do a lot of laundry. This is radical because it is what God calls you to do and you are obedient. Or being radical means that you keep sandwiches in your car so that when you come across a homeless person you can share what you have. And you don't tell anyone about it. This would be radical. Or maybe being radical is checking on and being a friend to a disabled person. Because they have needs and because you can be a friend.

I think it is obedience and a willingness to do things quietly and without proclaiming what you are doing that are the things that are truly radical. What has God put in front of you right now? That's His calling on your life right now. That's what He's asking you to do. It could be something as simple as taking a neighbor grocery shopping every week. It could be as big as starting to adopt a child who needs a family. It could be something that no one except God will see, or it could be something that draws the attention of many. The question is, are you willing to do what He asks? Being a follower of Jesus is in itself radical because He requires nothing less than everything we have. But what that 'everything' is looks like is different for every single person.

My radical may look like me picking up Legos again because that is what my son needs me to do to heal. Your radical may never involve a single Lego, but it will mean you are doing something that Jesus asks you to do, whether that is something that seems big or very, very small. We all want to do the big things, to be the impressive Christian whom God must love very much because of what we are asked to do. But we limit God when we think this way. God can use everything to His purpose and it is not up to us to decide when one thing is more important than another. We just need to support our brothers and sisters as they are obedient and to be obedient ourselves. That's all.

Be radical.


Anonymous said...

To sum up, being radical means being obedient: And that my friend, is radical.
Kim Crawford

jan said...

amazingly well said! needed this, so thank you :)

susieloulou said...

Thank you so much for saying this. I knew it. But it's still so nice to see it written out :-)

Erica said...

So true, inspiring, and very well put.

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

I've spent much of the last few days reading through your large family posts. :) I enjoyed them and am now following your blog. Lots of good stuff here. Thank you for encouraging a fellow large family mama.

Lucy said...

Everyday radical reminds me of one of the best books I have ever read about living a radical Christian life - it's called "His Way", written by Fr. David Knight. It was written in the 70s, but used copies are still available. Fr. Knight reminds us (though not in so many words) that radical also means speaking up for God's way when things definitely aren't going that way.

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