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I’d love to be radical but there is a problem

March 22, 2013

It seems that all across the evangelical landscape there are appeals for us to be radical.  I have to admit they sometimes make me wince.  I get their critical observation of complacent American evangelicalism, I really do.  I am glad they make me/us uncomfortable and am hopeful they have caused many of us to examine ourselves.

It doesn’t bother me that, while the phrase “radical” is in current vogue, the concept is centuries old.  They do a good job in pointing out the Scriptural basis of the call to a more radical faith.  It doesn’t bother me that they seem unaware of the similar calls that have gone out during the entire history of the church, albeit without the “radical” catch phrase.

I’ve read the books, seen the podcasts, followed the online discussions and I find myself nodding my head with their sentiments.  But I have some questions.

–          How does a guy with limited education who works 2 jobs and 7 days to barely support a family of five get to be a radical?

–          How about a single mom working ten hour days just to get by?  What does radical look like for her?

–          What about a family with a special needs child?  Or a family with an intense elder-care responsibility?

Having been in one of those situations I can tell you that there are times where just getting through the day feels pretty radical.  Can we only be radical when there is enough income, health and time to do it?

But there is another question.  All the examples I’ve seen, read and heard about show how marvelous it is to be radical.  People are saved.  Lives are changed.  Spiritual blessings so far outweigh the material sacrifice that it amazes us.  Having spent years in overseas missions I know this can be true.  But…

–          What happens when being a radical fails?

My experience comes from missions but I know it is true in other radical endeavors.  Sometimes people burn out.  Sometimes we see little or no results or even disastrous setbacks.  Sometimes going radical  blows marriages apart.  Sometimes health is ruined.  There are a dozen other “sometimes” stories.  And, yes, sometimes it just turns out that we suck at it.

Here is the title of a book I am looking for –

“Radical for the rest of us.  How to be a radical when you are just an ordinary guy struggling every day to keep your nose above water.”

Does anyone want to write that one for me?

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Doug Hilliard permalink

    Thanks Tom! I’m not ready to write the book but I understand your sentiment; I just finished a book review for a class a few weeks back on one of those books you’re talking about. It was challenging but unsettling in a way that caused me concern and you have voiced it well. Larry Osborne spoke at Advance13 yesterday with a message from a book he has recently written called “Accidental Pharisees” that is a great counterbalance to some of those “radical ideas” or maybe the application of them. I haven’t read the book but really enjoyed his message. He seems very “pastoral” for lack of a better word.

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