Monday, December 6, 2010

Radical?

For a long time I thought that being radical was the whole idea.  I thought that if people looked at me and remarked at what a radical life I was living for Christ, then I would indeed be completely fulfilling the whole mission of Christianity.  Don’t all Christians just simply want to live radically for Jesus?  That’s the truth that I chased after for a very long time. 

When I began to chase this idea, I changed the way I dressed, took off my shoes, and started randomly wearing bandanas.  I went to Africa and believe me, when I got back from the first trip I thought I was pretty radical.  I began to actually tell people about Jesus at my high school and began to actually pray out loud when I met with people at Starbucks and other coffee shops.  Boy.  I thought I was big stuff to be completely honest.  I mean really, how many kids go to Africa multiple times before they turn 18?  I was pretty convinced that since I was doing all the things American Christians see as radical, I had stuff together.  That was it, right?

When I was in Africa for the second time this summer in Ethiopia I told a friend of mine, “I simply want to live the most radical life for Jesus that is possible for an American teenager.”  Oh how soon, Jesus would open my eyes to how ignorant, arrogant, and young I was being and had been for so many years. 

On that same trip to Africa I met a guy named Mik.  Mik is from Germany and was in Ethiopia with his wife for 9 months.  He had served in various places around Ethiopia but somehow, by the grace of God, had ended up staying on the same campus as I was during his last two weeks in the country.  I saw him walking quite often around the complex for the first week I was there and finally mustered up enough courage one night to introduce myself and talk to him.  Because you have to understand, Mik looked exactly like I thought a radical Christian should (and I wanted to look).  He had “the facial hair” and the long pulled back hair and dressed in a really simple way that just screamed, radical!, to me.  So we began to talk and within minutes I saw how different he was from almost anyone I had ever met.  He talked in a way that didn’t make me guilty for not loving Jesus the way he did, but in a way that pushed me to want Jesus more, to truly know my Savior.  He told me that he was in training for the pastorate in Germany and as a part of the training had to do a mission trip for 9 months.  He told me about the amazing time he and his wife had had in Africa and the amazing things he had seen.  One story he told me blew my mind, completely.  Just days before he had gotten into a cab and gone into the city of Addis Ababa not knowing where he was headed.  When he felt like the Spirit was telling him to get out, he did and wandered with only Jesus’s guidance to his unknown destination.  Where he ended up was pretty astonishing.  There is a place is Addis where a whole community of people lives solely off the trash of the rest of the city.  When he got there he soon met a man named Michael who was known as the “pastor” of the area.  Michael had zero pastoral training and didn’t even have a Bible, but oh how intimately he knew Jesus.  People from the dump would come to Michael and ask him for prayer and he would give any clothes or food he got away.  Mik told me that the first time he met Michael, Michael looked at him and said, “There is a man with leprosy that is not far away.   I feel like we should go pray for him.”  Needless to say, I was at this point speechless, listening with a thirsty soul to my friend Mik talk.  Mik went on to tell me how he believed that Michael should get some training and was praying how that would be possible.  Within one week, Mik had Michael enrolled at a local Seminary to study the Word and be able to love people and God even more.  WITHIN A WEEK.  The time I was blessed to spend with Mik and his wife was amazing.  In the talks, I heard of lives fully abandoned to Jesus.

One night I was walking with a girl who was on the trip with me named Corinne.  I was telling her about these stories and how the kind of life Mic was living was exactly what I longed for.  I kept saying how I wanted to be radical and all that jazz.  As the conversation went on she began to almost question my motives (in a very loving way of course) and push me to look at why I wanted to be radical and live like Mic.  And then she said, “You know, I don’t think Mic would think of himself as radical.  I think he would probably just say he was following Jesus.”  It might not sound like much, but those words hit me like an arrow right between the eyes. 

Literally for the first time in my life I saw that following Jesus isn’t about being radical, it’s about following Jesus. 

I realize that might sound extremely clich√© but think about it.  When someone starts to follow Jesus, or “prays the prayer”, as we Christians like to say it, they do it primarily because they don’t want to spend eternity in Hell or some other strings- attached reason.  They want to live a decent life with not a lot of problems.  Maybe even because everyone else is doing it and it seems like the “American” thing to do.  There are so many things attached to becoming a Christian in today’s world and I believe very strongly that the greatest part of becoming a Christian is being overlooked.  We get to know Jesus.  We get to walk with, each day, the King of all the Universe!  Know Him, experience Him, worship Him, learn to love like Him and be loved by Him.  We get to receive the sweet salvation of Jesus blood and not only receive it but know that Salvation. It breaks my heart at how apathetic so many professed Christ Followers are about life.  We get to know the same God who has made everything!  The same God who hand crafted every tree, every blade of grass, everything is by His design.  And He knows our names, He knows my name.  When we speak, He hears us! What an amazing and mind blowing truth, but we take it so lightly. Why?  Have our hearts become that hard?

With that being said, my heart was opened in a new way when Corinne said that about Mic.  It made so much sense, it was so real.  I am almost willing to put money on the fact that he doesn’t look in the mirror and remark on how radical he looks and lives.  He simply wants to know Jesus.  He is seeking Jesus with everything He is and then everything else is being added to Him. 


“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need!”
-Matthew 6:33

I saw so clearly that my life was not about being radical or living a crazy lifestyle, even if that was for Jesus.  My life was about knowing Jesus.  It’s about glorifying His Name and each day learning to walk in the Spirit. 

We have so much to live for.  The Glory of God is here. 

The past six months since I have gotten back from Ethiopia, I have learned so much.  I have seen how un-radical my life truly is, even though I, in my little stupid prideful mind, believed that I living radically.  People give their lives for Jesus in the most dangerous places in the world, and they wouldn’t even tell you they were living radical.  They would tell you that they were following Jesus.  It’s as simple and as beautiful as that.

My good friend Zac once said to me, “It’s one thing to go to a high school and risk maybe be turned down, it’s another thing to go somewhere and love people and risk your life.”

I want to follow Jesus, to know Jesus.

As Paul so passionately and beautifully put, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead.  I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead.”
-Philippians 3:10-11

-> Oh Jesus, lead us to your heart.  Open up our tired eyes and show us your Glory, your Love, your face.  Allow us to seek you as hard as you seek us.  You are great my King.  Allow me to sing Hallelujah with my heart, not just my head. 








DISCLAIMER-- I am in no way bashing David Platt's book, "Radical".  I read that and absolutely loved it.  It's a great book that we can all learn from, I strongly encourage reading it. This post is honestly just about how Jesus showed me that living a life for Jesus is so much more than being radical.  And I know that Platt's book was about living for Jesus and i'm sure he doesn't have the same struggle with the word, "radical" that I have had in my life.

2 comments:

  1. This was really challenging and eye-opening...you definitely have a gift for words.

    ReplyDelete