Radical and Desperate for God is the slogan of our youth group, and in this post, I am directly addressing the youth whom I serve. In my experience as a high school teacher and youth adviser, I know so many young people who either say they desire, or even claim to be both radical and desperate for God. However, I really wonder if they know the implications of these words.
I often hear the word “radical” used as an appendage to the words Christian and Christianity, and the youth are the ones who often use it. “I’m a radical Christian,” they often say. You also hear it in songs, and see it on t-shirts. But is being radical just that?
There is no intention here to generalize but a lot of those who boldly make this claim have things in common. They are usually the cool teenagers who listen to contemporary Christian rock music, play rock worship songs at their youth services, wear hip clothes (mostly girls) that make them look like they just got out of Seventeen magazine, and so on (I think you get the picture). Now, do these things make you radical? No, and a million times NO!
I searched for the dictionary meaning of radical. I discovered how pregnant the word is and found these two definitions among others:
- Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme
- Favoring or effecting fundamental or revolutionary changes in current practices, conditions, or institutions 1
These had me thinking. What is the norm today that a Christian needs to depart from, and at the same time, what are the current practices and conditions that should be changed? Obviously, the ways of the world is the norm, and this where we need to effect change through the gospel. However, the misconception of some regarding radical Christianity seems to mean being a friend of the world, while at the same time being a friend of God. This results to a marriage between the world and Christianity. So the Christian youth now acts like, talks like, and thinks like the world while maintaining his Christian status. But looking and sounding like the world do not make you a radical Christian. Often times, these things are dangerous banes for they only feed the desires of the fallen nature.
But what really is a radical Christian? I believe that the following should be the mark of radical Christianity:
God in His rightful place: Above all
There are a lot of things that distract us and drive us away from the Lord. They could be relationships, work, music, movies, books, internet, and others. These things often steal the time that should be spent with God. They rank first and God is pushed in second, third, or even last place. That is idolatry. A radical Christian puts God above all and all other things are rubbish. (Deut. 6:5; Phil. 3:8)
The Christian with a weak prayer life is like a patient in the ICU. Prayer is our lifeline. The radical Christian prays in any place, and at any time. (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thes. 5:17)
The radical Christian loves the Word of God. He hungers for, meditates upon and never ceases to study it. His delight is in knowing the one true God of the Bible. (Psalm 119)
To obey is better than sacrifice and the radical Christian obeys wholeheartedly. He does so not out of duty, but out of love for the Savior. (John 14:15; John 15:10; 2 John 1:6)
The radical Christian has nothing to do with the world anymore. He no longer follows its pattern, but is rather transformed by the renewal of his mind. By grace he strives to live a life that is pleasing to the Lord, and it is evident in different areas of his life: his thoughts, actions, and speech. (Romans 12:1; Col. 3:1-11; Psalm 17:15)
The radical Christian has a genuine passion for the gospel. Despite the insults and persecutions that will undoubtedly be experienced, he never falters, but rather continues to tell people about the goodness of God and the salvation He brings. The radical Christian desires to effect change by the sharing of the gospel. (Romans 1:16)
Paul Washer once said that radical Christianity is real Christianity, and I concur.
There seems to be two kinds of desperation. One is the desperation that sees no hope, while the other pursues and clings to hope, as a drowning man clings to a lifesaver. The radical Christian is desperate for God. He clings to God because he knows that apart from Him, he can do nothing; he is nothing!
The book of Psalm shows the desperate cries of the psalmist. Psalm 42 paints a beautiful picture of a deer that is probably dying of thirst, desperate to find a flowing stream. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Yet again in Psalm 63 he says, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” In his affliction, David cries, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm13:1) It is as if to say, “Where are you, Lord? Not another minute without You, please, I would surely die!”
In John 15, Jesus used the vine as a metaphor for Christian living. He is the vine and we are the branches. We are to abide, to cling to Him. The scariest thing in the world is to live outside the presence of God.
The Christian who is desperate for God continuously seeks Him because he knows He will always be found. He cries to Him because he knows he will be heard. He wholly depends on Him because He is faithful. He lives for Him because He is life.
Now we must ask ourselves this question: Am I really radical and desperate for God?
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20