Friday, December 5, 2008


Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his crsos and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ahsamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." (Mark 8:34-38, ESV)

We walk through this life amazed at the feats accomplished by so-called spiritual giants - by men and women who commit their lives wholeheartedly to Christ and shake the world. We shake our heads in awe at their radical faith, consider the sort of immense dedication to the cause of the gospel, and whisper to ourselves that we wish we had that sort of drive, passion, and discipline.

The call to discipleship is a call universal for Christians. It is not a call only for the most passionate, most motivated, most expressive people. It is not a call of convenience, nor a call of mere opportunity. It is rather a command. There is no opt-out clause; one does not have the opportunity to say, "No, thanks, not my cup of tea," or even "Wow, that's great for you; I just don't have the time."

Every believer is called to completely surrender his or her life to the lordship and headship of Jesus Christ. There are no exceptions.

And so, simply put, that which we call radical isn't. Or at least, shouldn't be. It should be the ordinary outworkings of a Christian life. When we know Christ as the glorious King He is - not merely some get-out-of-jail-free card, but as our great treasure and reward - then we live with an abandon that seems reckless to the world, that would be reckless were it set on any lesser being than God Almighty.

My parents sent me a gift of a book that I'm very much looking forward to reading, Crazy Love, about living with a love that seems crazy in our culture. And while I'm excited about reading the book - I'll review it when I'm done! - I'm sad that the sort of love it will be describing would seem crazy to a Christian. That we have so many books about living life "on the edge," with some degree of "radicality," from being "wild at heart" or "captivating" to walking with "crazy love," makes it painfully clear that we recognize our need but not the answer to that need.

The solution to the problem is Christ. If we make Biblical manhood or womanhood, or radical life, or discipleship, or any other object our end goal, we sin, and grievously so. More than that, we will always suffer from but never understand the deep sickness that afflicts our lives; we will always wonder why Christianity has not brought us the clarity of purpose and lighter burder that Jesus promises. We will ever be striving after some noble yet ultimately unsatisfying goal.

Because we are not meant for discipleship, for the pursuit of holiness, for biblical man- or womanhood.

We are meant for Jesus Christ.

To be clear, all of the above are excellent wonderful things. But they are excellent and wonderful for one reason only: because they reflect the glory and the excellence of the person of God himself. They have no worth apart from Him, and nor do we. We do not need to find our purpose in life, or seek out some grand vision: He has already found us. We do need to see Him as He is and so value Him as He is: the great treasure, priceless beyond words, of our eternal existence. When we do that, we will live the kinds of radical lives we aspire to live, different in the details and exactly the same in the broad sweep: the glory of God our all.

This isn't radical. Or at least, it shouldn't be.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
And again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46, ESV)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:7-10, ESV)

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