Saturday, July 19, 2008

What creates "radicals"?



We had another break in this week about 5:30am.  
As the governor noted publicly yesterday, over the past 2 weeks we’ve had almost 1 child per day killed in the city.  On Tuesday our BB team was on a public bus and someone screamed “get out, he has a knife” and half the bus emptied. . . .  Then this morning our building was burglarized again — for about the 6th or 7th time
 this year.  

While there has been a lot of violence city wide, we are fortunate to have experienced relatively minor damage (a few broken windows, some missing TV’s and a computer, a few somewhat alarmed teens).  Each week when we have missions teams teams here we wrestle with what Luke 6:30 really means.

   
“give to whomever begs from you, and for the one who takes away your goods, do not demand them back. . .  . .love your enemy”.    

Over the past several months I have been wondering about how Christians that work in distressed urban contexts become “radicals”.  When the names and words of people like Rev. Wright and Father Pfleger break out into the open they appear to be nuts to the “average” American.  

Crazy. Radicals.  

Now I am not trying to equate what we do with them but just want to make these three observations:  
1. The people in their communities love them.  
2. These radicals are seriously moved by the word of God.  
3. They don’t look that crazy from here.  

Further, I think that if the “average” American Christian heard the conversations that go on at CCDA and other gatherings of Christians who work in urban contexts they would be perceived as “radical”.  My own pastor, who is regularly heard on mainstream Christian radio, uses different terminology and descriptions when preaching in our church than when he is invited to preach at places like Bible colleges.   Christians in the developing world are also notoriously perceived as radical in their faith by US evangelicals.  

So what is it that creates these radicals?  Is it the context of injustice, violence and marginalization?  Perhaps.  But more than that I think it is the word of God.  If you give the words of Christ to people in desperate settings. . . The word radicalizes.  Common sense would never suggest always giving to beggars, letting the thief get away, or staying even temporarily in harms way — let alone loving those who hate you.  

These are challenging lessons requiring patient reflection, prayer, faith in God, and even a sense of humor.  Please pray that we’d have all of these.  Thanks for standing with me as we seek the renewal of the city through the power of the gospel preached and lived out. 

2 comments:

Kyle said...

Joel,

I believe that what you are describing as "radicals" is what we should all look a lot more like. Things like being transformed by the word of God should be true about anyone who calls themself a Christian.

I am reading a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. It is a quick read but has some profoundly challenging thoughts for the typical "average" American Christian. He even dares to challenge the salvation of the typical "average" American Christian. You might look it up.

Thanks for sharing this stuff.

Kyle Lantz

hammerdad said...

I'll check it out, thanks Kyle!