Radicalism seems to have a reserved spot in daily news. One side or the other of the political spectrum accuses the other of being too radical. But radicalism can be good. We should take note of, and comfort in, the genuine radicalism of our nation’s Founders. But political radicalism is not our subject. Another kind of radicalism is much more beneficial and in very short supply!
Radicalism: Today’s Necessity
The Church has long had an unspoken definition of radicalism:
Anyone who shows his/her love for Jesus more overtly than I do.
Radical love for Jesus will be misunderstood and probably get us in trouble. But the world is in desperate need of people who are radically in love with the Savior. In Acts 16, we see Paul and Silas in jail. They had preached, people repented, and a girl was delivered from demon possession. Those are good things, but they are what landed Paul and Silas in prison.
We see cross cultural evangelism in Acts 16. Paul and Silas radically loved Jesus and told people about Him. They didn’t care what race the hearer was. Love drives people beyond themselves. It was, in fact, this same Paul who wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:
The love of Christ compels us.
Radicalism: Responds Differently
You probably know the story. Paul and Silas were put in the inner-most jail cell (a cell within a cell). These faithful evangelists were:
- Beaten before being put in jail
- Bleeding from their wounds
- Filled with pain
And there was a certain irony in that cell. Paul, the previous persecutor of the Lord’s church, was the one being persecuted. What if something similar happened today? I can almost hear the letter composed in the jail cell and sent to the surrounding churches:
Dear brothers and sisters,
You know we have been unjustly treated. We are in fact Roman citizens and, against Roman law, we were flogged and illegally put in this smelly cell with the city’s criminal element. We don’t deserve to be here. Please call your churches to pray for us. Ask that God would get us out of this miserable situation. Since we don’t have any idea how long we will be here, please take an offering so we may have medical care and food to eat while we are here.
That sounds about right, doesn’t it? A radical love for Jesus has a direct impact on how we react to circumstances. Many would call those reactions abnormal. Paul and Silas were exemplifying the words of James:
Count it all joy when you fall into diverse trials.
But this same Paul would later write to the Philippian church:
I want to be a partaker of the sufferings of Christ.
Paul didn’t traffic in empty words. He was living what he preached even in surreal circumstances. He and Silas sang praises long into the night. Singing! How do you take a deep breath to sing when your back is lacerated? Would the pain not be reason enough to be quiet? Love for Jesus trumps personal comfort.
Radicalism: Attracting Onlookers
Paul and Silas were surrounded accused criminals. But no one in that jail had ever experienced what was going that night! I imagine those who were listening thought those two nut-jobs would surely get quiet after a while. Well, they didn’t. I am sure the longer the praise went on, the more the other guys wondered:
What can possibly make someone act like this?
I know that because when God opened all the jail cells, they all stuck around. Think about it. Radical love bears radical praise. And radical praise draws people. There is an authenticity about focusing on Jesus that is attractive. In a ‘plastic banana’ world, He alone is reality.
Radicalism: Contagious In A Good Way
Radical love is contagious. The last event of this particular night paired two former persecutors. One prior persecutor of the church (Paul) had his wounds cared for by his own former persecutor (the jailer) who had just caught a case of radical love. That’s the transforming power of Jesus’ love.
What but the love of Jesus causes us to share with those who are so different than we are? Only radical love for Him causes us to have joy when others only see misery? To be sure, those who love Him radically aren’t always treated well. These two were beaten while others have been beheaded. They sacrificed life to follow One Who was not treated well for loving the world. Loving like this risks all but it has a great reward. What is it?
Well done, My good and faithful servant!
So let me ask, ‘Who is catching a new case of radical love from you?’ This is kind of radicalism the world desperately needs. Spread it…
Soli Deo Gloria!
A related post: Treasure Island…