I had to miss last night's class due to sick kids and a change of family schedule. I heard it was thought provoking and intense and I hated to miss everyone's valuable insights.
This chapter reminded me that to be able to follow God's will for our lives, to be able to do the work He asks of us, we must desire to get to know Him. We must crave His Word. If we don't understand the way of our God, then how can we serve Him? As Christians we cannot do the will of our Lord God unless we know the ways of the Lord our God.
Chapter 2 also points glaringly to the problems of this world, including a watered down Christianity where we meet society's expectations of what good is instead of God's. The option we are given is not if we serve or if we choose God but in the how. There are some things that God just simply commands of us. He demands us all to be radical. For example, he commands us all to take care of the orphan and widows (James 1:27)......For some, that looks like the young lady I follow on a blog that is single and in her 20's and has adopted 14 girls and operates a massive feeding program in Uganda. For me that looks like adopting two children. For me that looks like sponsoring a child in Kenya so she can go to school and get immunizations and eat while learning about Jesus. For you that may look like fostering or visiting a nursing home or clearing the snow from your older neighbor's driveway. It may mean cooking a meal for a family that is fostering or watching their children so they can have a break or maybe it means lovingly caring for a parent or grandparent......these are all radical. None of them big or small. The radical piece, for me, comes in being completely obedient to Christ.
The orphan and widow is just an example. He also calls us each to tell others about Jesus. Is that in being a missionary? Talking to a friend? Teaching in the children's class at church on Sunday? What is He calling you to? What is He asking of you? Requiring of you? When I think of it, we could all be doing more.....there is always more to do....Jesus died for us!!! What could we possibly do to make it seem like we are doing enough for HIM? The only answer I have for that is to give him your, Yes! Whatever you ask of me, I will do. That looks different for all of us. I believe you have to come to peace with the fact that you are being obedient to His calling for your life. If you constantly are asking of yourself am I doing enough, then maybe you aren't. But if you know you are following those nudges, answering His promptings on your life, then I believe we are living radically for Christ.
With all that being said, none of this can be done with out Christ.....His Holy Spirit residing in us. When we commit our hearts to God, we gain a power I think few really tap into. We are given the power of Christ to do what He calls us to do. I could not do what I do without God's living Spirit in my life. I would not have adopted, would not be the mom I am or the wife I am or the friend I work hard to be. I would not reach out in encouragement to others or probably even realize they needed encouragement in the first place. I think it is so important to see that is why it is important for chapter 2 to seek His face, to read His word, to desire to know Him intimately and and it is then.....when we crave His will, when we are radically dependent on Him to provide, guide, comfort and teach us.....it is then that we can live RADICALLY for Him, IN HIM!!! How exciting is that?!!! I am hoping this book talks about how powerful and essential His Holy Spirit is to living a Radical life because for me, it is the only way it can be done.
My talents, my strengths, weaknesses, the fruits of my life's work through Christ will look differently than yours. That is where the road is wide. The only way to heaven is through Christ....that is how it is narrow. He gives us that salvation, that invitation to an eternal life with Him freely. That "gift of God's Grace involves the gift of a new heart. New desires. New longings." (Radical p. 39) It is our responsibility to accept it and spend the rest of our life getting to know Him more and answer with a resounding Yes. Use me God, I am yours. It seems the current church in general fails Chrisitans in this way. If you are just saying Yes, I believe, you are missing out on the power of His Spirit residing in you. Yes, you gain that gift instantly but you must get to know Him to truly tap into that power. That power is what brings about change in behavior, in life, in choices, etc.
The focus should not be on feeling guilty or scared into doing good deeds to gain access to heaven; but the focus, I believe should be in our intimacy with our Heavenly Father...gaining an insatiable desire to get to know Him more, to learn about Him, study His word, see the world through His eyes, have broken hearts over what breaks His heart. When we are getting to know our God and calling on Him to help us do what He asks of us, then the works, the fruits of the Spirit, the deeds and actions come freely. It is His will we seek. His will in our lives becomes a natural progression of Christ residing in us. As we get to know Him and become closer to Him, our hearts begin to resemble His.....our life's work begin to reflect that. When we truly begin to understand His love and His sacrifice for us, is when we can begin to comprehend that He deserves nothing less than our complete and total surrender, our obedience to Him.
So don't be discouraged or afraid of your salvation. Pray for a desire to know Him, a desire to be in His word, of HIS world. It is then that the growing happens. It is then that the beauty comes from ashes. It is then that the fuit of Christ residing in you shines and those around you will come to see HIM. The sheer blessing it is to know and experience Him is not one to be missed. Now that, my friends, is radical!