By In Culture, Theology

How Ephesians Killed My Radical Christianity

Note: This has nothing to do with David Platt’s book Radical. I have never read it or to my knowledge read anything else he has written.

What is a Radical? 

Definitions matter. So before proceeding I wanted to define the term “radical.”  By “radical,” I mean that strain of Christian thinking that says living a normal Christian life, getting married, having children, raising them in Christ, loving your spouse, being faithful at your job, attending worship, reading your Bible, praying, loving the saints, and then dying is not enough.  It is that strain of Christianity that says, “There must be something more that I must do to be a good Christian.”  The radical thinks and preaches that, “Good Christians do amazing things for Jesus.” This type of thinking is found in all branches of Christianity. There are mission weeks, revival meetings, monks who abandon all, elusive second blessings, pilgrimages to Rome, women who leave marriage and children far behind, men who leave jobs to enter the ministry, young men who believe that memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism is a means of grace, preachers who imply that Word and Sacraments are not enough, and conference speakers who demand that we pray more and more. The halls of faith echo with phrases like: Be radical. Give it all up for Jesus. Sacrifice everything.

I was raised to think like this and my guess is that many of you were as well. Our Christian life was driven by questions like , “Am I doing enough?”  But over time I found that this pressure to do great things for God was not just burdensome, but it was unbiblical. The epiphany came as I studied Ephesians a few years back.

Radical Indeed

The first chapters of Ephesians are some of the most glorious chapters in all the New Testament. All Scripture is inspired by God, but maybe Ephesians is blessed with a double portion. Here are a few of the verses about our great salvation.

We are blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4).
We have redemption through his blood (1:7).
We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13).
We were dead. Now we are alive (2:1).
We have been raise up with Christ and seated with Him (2:6).
We were once strangers to the covenant, but now have been brought near (2:12-13).
We have access through Christ by the Spirit to the Father (2:18).

And on and on and on it goes. (See especially 3:17-21.) Paul gives us a grand picture of the great redemption we have in Christ and the great work our Lord did for us. Chapters 1-3 of Ephesians are Paul’s unfolding of this mystery (3:9) to the saints at Ephesus.  In chapter 4, Paul begins to explain to the saints what this mean for their daily lives.  Ephesians is neatly divided between what God has done for us in Christ (1-3) and how we are to respond (4-6).  Or to use other terms it is divided between the indicative and imperative.

Boring

Not So Much

The first three chapters are radical. Coming back from the dead is radical. Being made clean is radical. Being united to the covenant, as a Gentile, is radical.  But when we get to chapters 4-6 the radicalness disappears. After reading chapters 1-3 we would expect Paul to turn on the jets. We are Spirit-filled, covenant included, blood bought, once dead-now alive, Christians. We were made to do great things. If Paul were a modern preacher he would follow this up with a call to evangelize or do missions or go give all you have to the poor or change the world (or at least your community) or start a neighborhood Bible study. He would close Ephesians with a call to be radical.

But the real Paul disappoints us. There is nothing in these chapters about doing amazing things for Christ. There is nothing about missions or evangelism. There is nothing about changing the world or your community. There is no call to give away all you have. Paul does not encourage the men to examine themselves to see if they are called to the ministry. Women are not encouraged to leave all behind and be “fully devoted to Jesus.” There is no call to parents to make sure they raise “radical” children.  So what does Paul tell us to do?

Live with one another in lowliness and patience (4:2).
Reject false doctrine and grow into maturity (4:13-15).
Put off the old man. (4:22)
Don’t lie. (4:25)
Get rid of sinful anger. (4:26-27)
Stop stealing and work hard so you can give to those who have need (4:28).
Watch your speech (4:29, 31, 5:4).
Be kind to one another (4:28).
Don’t be sexually immoral (5:3-7).
Avoid fellowship with darkness (5:11).
Speak to one another songs (5:19).
Give thanks (5:20).
Wives submit to husbands (5:22, 24).
Husbands love wives (5:250).
Children obey parents (6:1-3).
Fathers raise godly children (6:4).
Work hard for those over you (6:5-9).
Fight against the Devil and his minions (6:10-20)

Not very radical is it?

 A Bad Kind of Radical

Paul is radical, but not in a way we like. He is radical about killing sin. He wants us to stop having fits of anger. He wants us to cut out our gossiping tongue. He wants us to be thankful in all circumstances. He wants us to pray. He wants us to get rid of greed. He wants us to make sure we keep our speech clean. All of this sounds pretty boring and hard. What sounds more exciting a speaker talking about reaching your community for Christ or one talking about taming your wayward tongue?

We don’t like Paul’s call to be radical because it is a lot easier to love the lost whom we haven’t seen than our wife who we see every day. We don’t like it because forgiveness is hard (4:32) and fornication is easy (5:3). We don’t like it because we would rather be known for doing something amazing than be obscure and keep the peace (4:3).  We don’t like it because he says a lot about submission and nothing about evangelizing the ladies at Starbucks. In the end, those calls to be radical aren’t radical at all. They are just a distraction.   The Christian life is not about going some place for Jesus or doing great things for him. It is being holy right where we are. It  is loving our brothers and sisters in our churches. It is being faithful to our family obligations.  It is working hard at our vocations. In a fallen world, if we do this,  we are being radical enough. 



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47 Responses to How Ephesians Killed My Radical Christianity

  1. Thank you for this post!

    This is something that I have felt for a while but never really put into writing.

    As a recent college grad I can’t tell you how much people my age need to hear this. Because all we ever here is all the “amazing things you can do for Jesus” many have no idea what to do when they graduate. Furthermore, they believe they are not “living out their faith” if they decide to get a good job and start a family.

    It really is a shame how modern churches and ministries have used this sort of “pump up” tactic to reach people my age. It hasn’t done us much good and has actually done a lot of bad.

    Thanks again!

    Michael

    Twitter: _Michael_Hansen

    Blog: MichaelAlanHansen.wordpress.com

  2. Peter Jones says:

    Michael, thanks for the kind words and I am glad you enjoyed the post. Peter

  3. Tom Brainerd says:

    Peter,

    Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Do you mean that Ephesians is even more inspired than the words in red?

    😉

    Christ’s blessings on you.

    Tom

  4. Peter Jones says:

    Tom, blessing to you too. Thanks for coming over and reading the post. Peter.

  5. Metal Phil says:

    Brilliant! Thank you for writing this! It’s well needed!

  6. Keith G. Balser says:

    Excellent points, Pastor Jones — and a sorely needed refocusing of the term “radical” (especially your reference to the radical indicatives in Ephesians 1-3). In strident calls to be sacrificially “missional” — even to the point of sacrificing family needs and well-being — it can be all too easily forgotten that one of the most radical admonishments in the Bible is 1 Timothy 5:8; that verse, along with the imperatives you cite from Ephesians 4-6 (and I would add Acts 20:28-30), is one of the “Great Commissions” that need far more recognition and exposition in the Church today.

  7. Ken Ochsenreither says:

    What an excellent article. Very few individuals are propelled to the spotlight where most live out a quiet life of service, growing in holiness to The Lord.
    My only complaint is your brevity in mentioning “attend church.” I see the scriptures making so much more of community life in the local Church that “attending” does not nearly describe what ought to be taking place in the hearts of believer’s.
    Ever since I sat under a sermon series through Ephesians I have understood that according to Eph 4:16, we grow in grace together, in the local body, and that is God’s design for his saints.
    May The Lord prosper your Church with many sanctifying graces.
    Ken

    • Peter Jones says:

      Ken, really good point about the phrase “attend church.” It was weak. I should have used something like “be involved in your local church body” or a similar phrase. Thanks for reading and blessings on you and yours. Peter

  8. Brian Jones says:

    Peter thank you for sharing this. I read this right before our Sunday worship services and was really encouraged.

  9. Frank Pontillo says:

    Wow! This article is very disturbing because it takes one letter and exhalts it above the rest of scripture. Also I take issue with “it’s easier to love the lost than your wife”. Christians that have a lifestyle that ministers to the lost will often be met with opposition, persecution and get abused spit at not to mention missionaries that are putting their lives on the line. Yes we are to take care of our families but that is not all. It is radical to love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemy and pour yourself out for the hungry as Isaiah 58:10 exhorts. Notice God does not say just throw some extra change in the basket but to “pour yourself out”. He says take the Homeless into your home Isaiah 58:7. Now that’s radical. The good Samariton went out of his way for a stranger. The Macadonian Church “begged” to give out of their “extreme poverty” to help alleviate distressed saints. 2 Cor 8:1-4 That’s radical!! If we truly believe in Hell and people are going there and we do not act radically to get the gospel to them then something is wrong with our understanding of Hell and the command of Jesus Christ regarding the great commission he gives to us. Those that are that are sheep and in the true flock of God understand the heart of God and they will desire to be radical as scripture does clearly teach and they will be baptized . The goats will see these scriptures and instead of aspiring to work them out they flock to teachers that water down the radical commands of Christ and tickle their itchy ears. If one is sitting under teachers that are not exhorting a person to a life that looks radical to the world then they are in danger if facing the rebuke our Lord gave when He said the lukewarm would be spit out of his mouth unless they repent.

    • Dave Latham says:

      Frank, I think you are missing the heart of Peter’s post and I think you are reading WAY too much into his line about Ephesians having a double portion. He is not saying that the book of Ephesians is exalted over other portions of Scripture. He is simply saying that there is a lot of Biblical truth packed into the first few chapters of Ephesians (I think we can all agree with that). Also, I think you’re reading WAY too much into his statement about it being easier to love the lost than love your wife. Again, I think Peter is trying to say it is easier to love people who don’t know you as well. It is harder to love your wife because you can’t fake anything in front of her. She knows you better than you probably know yourself (which is true by the way).

      He never said “don’t love the lost” and he never said it is wrong to pour yourself out to love others. He is simply critiquing the idea that you MUST do something radical for God to love you. I work with college students and they all fall into this mindset. Do I want them to repent and give their lives away for Jesus? Of course I do. But, I want them to do it out of gratitude and obedience to the God who rescued them, not as a prerequisite for justification. Peter’s post was very helpful because it placed the cart back behind the horse. Ephesians 1-3 (the great scope of God’s redemption) drives the application in chapters 4-6.

      What Peter is saying (Remember- in a short blog post, not a theological paper or sermon) sounds a lot like 1st John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

      I can’t discern if you are specifically calling Peter a lukewarm teacher in your last line but if you are I hope you will have the decency to ask his forgiveness. The tone seemed a bit harsh and did not add anything to the discussion. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt and I hope you will extend that same courtesy to me and Peter.

    • Mickey Lax says:

      Frank, I considered what you said until you started calling people who disagree with you “goats.” Name-calling is for children, so I would suggest staying away from it. It’s not kind to call your brothers and sisters in the faith “goats.” Maybe you underestimate the damage books like Radical and Crazy Love have done. You don’t get people to be more spiritual by guilting them to death with how much they don’t love Jesus. Seriously, don’t you know how to interact with people?

    • Peter Jones says:

      Frank, thanks for your reply. I am not sure if you are calling me a wolf, but I will assume you were talking about someone else. I do agree that loving the lost is hard. I probably should have phrased that a little better. But it is not harder than loving your wife nor more important.

      Your hagiography of those who evangelize the lost is exactly what I am working against. I Corinthians 12 makes it clear that everyone has a role to play in the body and all these roles deserve honor. But what you have done is make evangelism the new super spiritual gift by saying that it deserves more honor than other roles. I think this is contrary to Scripture. Obviously, I am not against evangelism. But it is one part of the body, not the whole.

      It is interesting how several people who disagreed with me other places also brought up giving to the poor. This seems like an odd argument. First, because it doesn’t contradict anything I have said. What is your point quoting II Corinthians 8? Of course, we should give sacrificially. It is strange that in one spot you deride those who just put money in the box and yet that is no doubt exactly what the church at Corinth did. They tithed, in excess of what they could afford, and God blessed their efforts. Second, it is an odd argument because Jesus specifically commands that our giving be in secret. In other words, people who give sacrificially are not generally known for giving sacrificially. Third, because Paul makes it clear that there will be wealthy people in each body and that those wealthy people should be wealthy in good works (I Timothy 6:17-19). Rich people are an important part building the Kingdom. This idea is implied in Ephesians 5:28, which I quoted in my post. Some people will have more. Some people will have less. Those who have more should provide for those who have less. This is normal Christian living and usually done through a solid diaconate.

      With Love in Christ,
      Peter

    • Brenda says:

      Hi Frank,
      You have things backwards re: becoming a child of God & being baptized. The baptism (by the Holy Spirit) is what **makes** us a child of God.

      That Holy Spirit baptism (Eph 1:13) occurs the moment we hear and believe the Good News that “Christ died for our sins according to Scripture, was buried, and rose from the dead according to Scripture” (1 Cor 15:3, 4). We don’t get saved & then get baptized. We are baptized from On High, which makes us saved. God Bless, ~Brenda

  10. Brad says:

    I am discovering that we can do both – we can live the “normal Christian life” and the “radical Christian life” at the same time, and each is integral to the other. We can live the “normal Christian life” of getting married, having children, raising them in Christ, loving your spouse, being faithful at your job, attending worship, reading your Bible, praying, and loving the saints.” At the same time, we can live the “radical Christian life” of loving our neighbors, having the poor and marginalized in our homes, evangelizing the lost, taking some risks with our time and resources, supporting missions around the world etc. We really don’t have to sacrifice one for the other, though I am learning that the “radical Christian life” isn’t really as glamorous as some people make it out to be.

    • Peter Jones says:

      Brad, thanks for the reply. You are right on one level. Clearly we are to love our neighbors, care for the poor, etc. But I think we often make the latter part more important than the former. We make evangelizing a great spiritual virtue while raising godly children falls further down the list. All that you list is really just normal Christian living. But we don’t like that because we want to think of ourselves as doing something amazing. Thanks again for reading. Peter

  11. Kristie Thompson says:

    Thank you for this post,
    Very encouraging to a stay home mom.
    Many blessings for your ministry and family.

    • Peter Jones says:

      Kristie, I am glad it encouraged you. My wife is currently staying at home raising our eight children. I think she has often felt that the real work was “out there” some where. This post came from talking with her and working through the Scriptures with her. Keep fighting the good fight. Peter

  12. Pam says:

    Thank you for your post!

    I have thought a lot about this over the years. I keep several quotes from Oswald Chambers, Elisabeth Elliot and others tucked inside my Bible as reminders. From Chambers:
    “It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”
    “Are you ready. . . to be so hopelessly insignificant that you are never thought of again in connection with the life you served?”
    “I want to choose the scenery of my own sacrifice. I want to have the right kind of people watching and saying ‘Well done.’ Some saints cannot do menial work and remain saints because it is beneath their dignity.”
    And from Spurgeon:
    “Attention to humble duties is a better sign of grace than ambition for lofty and elevated works.”
    “The humbler graces and duties are the best tests. Hypocrites mimic all public duties, but the private and concealed life of true godliness they cannot counterfeit. . .”

  13. Peter,

    I thought this was a great post and very encouraging. Great overview of Ephesians as well. I also found it really encouraging and not a little bit ironic that it appears on a Kuyperian blogsite! 🙂 I don’t know if others will get that irony or not.

    Anyway, thanks for writing. Good stuff.

    P.S. I bet Frank above is really, really bad in defining or emphasizing justification. Who can do all those he said in order to be sure we are following Jesus enough?

  14. John White says:

    I don’t think any of it is “Radical”, but rather all normal. We serve a supernatural God and His Spirit lives within us. What most call radical, should be the norm to a disciple of Christ. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that give us the ability to love our wives and our neighbor; it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to live out Ephesians 4-6, as well as Genesis through Revelation; it is the enduement of power from the Holy Spirit that makes us effective witnesses; it is the power of the Holy Spirit through our witness that draws the heart of the unbeliever to repentance.

    Paul doesn’t specifically “encourage the men to examine themselves to see if they are called to the ministry,” or encourage women “to leave all behind and be ‘fully devoted to Jesus'” or “call parents to make sure they raise ‘radical’ children,” because Paul didn’t believe in “Radical Christianity,” he just believed in Christianity. So he said things like, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:11-12) and on to say, “from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (vs 16) He is talking about what most call “Radical”: the equipping of the saints for the Work of service or ministry, and then “held together by what every joint supplies” what we supply to one another as we are joined together; “according to the proper working of each individual part” (gift oriented ministry of the individual believer used corporately. This is not “Radical” but the expected “Norm”. Then in Chapter 5 he implies the pouring out and total giving of ourselves to one another, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (vs 1-2) But again, this is not radical, but the normal expectation. And on into vs 22 and on calling women to submit to their husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ love the church and poured himself out for her; not radical but normal Christianity.

    None of this, however, is possible without intimate fellowship with God, which is what Paul eludes to throughout the entire book and other writings written at the same time; Colossians and Philemon. An intimacy that is cultivated through the study of scripture, a consistent prayer life, and a walk of obedience to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

    • Mariposa says:

      I’ve taken the time to read all comments, and I honestly like yours the best, John White. Someone shared your blog post on Facebook Pastor Peter, sharing that it gave her peace about feelings of not measuring up. Why do we often feel we don’t measure up? In the words of God in the garden, “Who told us we were naked.” Perhaps in seeking to measure up…the proverbial enticing fruit in the garden, God just wants us content in communing with Him intimately…choosing the what was “better”, as Jesus once spoke to Mary as Martha complained that she left her to do all the work as she sat at the foot of Jesus listening intently. Though I sympathize with this guy because I’ve felt the same, it’s taken me some time to realize the solution to my own feelings of inadequacies both within and outside of Christian ministry circles.

      One more thing before going into the crux of what I intend to articulate: I am a stay-at-home mom, myself, Pastor Peter. 🙂 I empathize with your wife who is home with your eight children, because I’ve struggled with staying at home for a while…seeking significance or my “calling” from outside of the home. I’ve come to the following conclusions, and I hope they will bring peace to her heart, if she hasn’t already found this.

      I believe abiding is the answer. First things first…chose what will never be taken away from you…abiding in Christ. Choosing to commune with Him through reading His Word, prayer, asking for more of His presence (being filled by Holy Spirit), and so forth. Then, as you’ve allowed Him to affirm you and show you that you have value despite what you can do with your hands, He may speak to your heart in a still small voice how He would like you to share the love He has poured into your heart with others in your family, church, and world.

      The answer is not living a “normal life” and being content with that. Nor is the answer living a radical life as some would describe it. The true answer is putting first things first…abiding. Abiding in the one true Vine…Jesus! (John 15) There so much to say about the fact that before beginning his ministry Jesus fasted 40 days in the dessert. So did John the Baptist. Fasting was their form of abiding in God that gave them the spiritual fortitude to carry out the calling for which God gave them birth.

      In the previous chapter (John 14) Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.”

      Then he goes on to say in John 15: v. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anteing you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit you are my true disciples. this bring great glory to my Father. I’ve loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to law down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.”

      Now, before you disqualify my words as just another trite Christian platitude, hear me out…or better yet, let the Scriptures marinade in your heart.

      Romans 12 says the following: “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

      “Don’t copy the behavior and customs this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

      “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as your bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

      “IN HIS GRACE, God has given us different gift for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have the gift of showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

      “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

      “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people And don’t think you know it all.

      “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

      “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heaps burning coals of shame on their heads.’

      “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

      I got carried away with typing, I’ll admit. This entire chapter is awesome. But what I would like to point out is that Jesus said to love others as He loves us, being willing to give his life for us. Hmmmm, then this verse goes on to say to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God, holy and pleasing as our spiritual act of worship. Then we will be able to know what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will for our lives is, and bet your bottom dollar…it has to do with LOVE…building up the Body of Christ in one way or another, and being a light to the world in the process.

      Jesus death and resurrection should be of consequences in our lives. We are not our own. As Paul said…”To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Ha! There I go…Some of you may have tuned out just then. There she goes taking that “radical” talk. Hahaha. Okay…okay…in that case…let’s focus on the former. TO LIVE IS CHRIST! Jesus is Lord, is He not!?!

      With that said, we all serve as different parts of the Body, and by giving our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as our spiritual act of worship, we will then be transformed in our thinking and be able to test and approve what God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will for our live INDIVIDUALLY.

      In short, before desiring to know our calling and be released into it…we need to learn to simply abide in Christ and allow Him to transform us from the inside out. Besides, He said that “apart from me you can do nothing.” Ha! We do a lot apart from Him…I guess nothing of eternal value is what He means…because He also said somewhere else that in the last days, many would come to Him saying, “But didn’t I prophesy in your name and cast out demons, ” and his reply will be, “Get away from me your evil doer. I knew you not.” Knowing God is the bottom line. To Know God is to receive His love by His grace and through faith, and to SHARE that love with others.

      This world and unfortunately even church culture can get us sidetracked from hearing the voice of God for our individual lives. I would like to believe that God knows me inside and out, experiences, temperament, giftings, weaknesses, and more that He has a unique calling for my life. And sometimes that calling looks different depending on the season, but one things should remain: I am not my own. I was bought at such a great price. To live is Christ!

      The point is making much of Jesus and yielding to Holy Spirit in our individual lives without comparing ourselves to others who function in a different role in the Body…a role that God has prepared for them in advance for the edification of all, if they are where He has called them to be. (I remember a time when I forced myself into a mold, experiencing great frustration as a result, because the reason I took on such a position was to build my own “proverbial” kingdom out of envy of others, and not to exalt God with my life. Just as Father has not given us the same temperaments at birth, He hasn’t given us the same giftings or callings either.

      We are often like Peter in John 21, looking at others in the Body and asking in our hearts, “Lord, what about him?” God had already spoken to Peter the sort of life He would live in service to Him and the sort of death He would die. BUT, soon after, Peter (gotta love him…out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…we’re all works in progress and Peter proves it!) takes a look at John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” and asks, “what about Him?”

      THAT HAS GOT TO STOP!

      It’s not about being radical or normal. It’s about living a life that is abiding in Jesus and allowing Holy Spirit to produce a fruitful/abundant life in the ways He directs us to LIVE A LIFE OF LOVE…point blank. Enough with the either or. Grow in loving God with our all and grow in loving others as ourselves…the two greatest commands, and in so doing…in so abiding…we will be able to test and approve what God’s good pleasing and perfect will is for our lives…as we give our bodies as a living sacrifice…Isn’t that what is meant when we said, JESUS IS LORD!

      To make it personal: At this point in my life, I’ve wrestled with the desire to be back in the classroom as my “ministry” of sorts or to lead a group in my church, because I love people…I love my students and colleagues…I love the Body. However, as I submitted my will to God, He helped me to realize that this time in my life is to grow in intercession for others, specifically my family, government, and the leaders in the church. I’ve received confirmation as He’s allowed me to experience answer to prayers and even giving me dreams foreshadowing things to come, helping to direct my prayers. I share this not to boast about how close I am to God, but to prove a point. Not everyone has the same function in the Body and God does allow us to go through seasons. Sometimes seasons of preparation. (Consider David a shepherd boy in his father’s pasture before becoming king and even Joseph in Genesis. Such a redemptive story.) God has a plan for each one of us. Perhaps the answer is not to go looking for our calling, but surrendering our hearts to God and allowing Him to transform our hearts and mind so that we can hear Him directing our lives as He wills. Because He is Lord…not our Pastors…not our children…not our husbands…though we honor and respect and care for them all.

      I can go on and on about this, but I won’t. The point is being led by Holy Spirit, finding peace in God’s unique direction for your life, not comparing yourself to other people in the Body, and loving and being “for” those who function in their unique role in the Body without downplaying or envying someone else’s servant…God’s servant!

      It’s so liberating to have your confidence come from not what your hands can do for God, but what His Heart of love has done in you as you CONTINUE rooted/abiding in the One True Vine. From glory to glory…for His GLORY alone.

      Those who have ears…

      With love and a desire for the Body of Christ to experience the abundant life in Jesus that He died for us to experience. His resurrection should have consequence in each of our lives who confess He is Lord. Since He is Lord, He should be in charge of what that “consequence” should look like, whether it is as an intercessor behind the scenes, a member of a mission group, a Pastor from the pulpit, a counselor for the hurting, an exhorter, a woman who disciples her children, a servant who does things that wot every get recognizes on this side of Heaven. etc.

      As a good friend once told me after hearing about the falling of a Pastor recently: None of us is Great…even those who have “lime light” roles in the Body, as some of us would suppose. None of us is Great! He is Great! We just need to let our light Shine in the ways He ordains, so that we can live lives that shine a bright light on just How GREAT our God is. Happy Easter!

  15. Mimi says:

    Great post! Sorry about those who strain out the gnats and swallow camels .Guess everyone is entitled to a gnutty moment 😉 It has been my experience that seeking to do something great for God sometimes leads to selfishness, arrogance, separation (eagles and turkeys) which is rooted in pride. Covetousness can be involved when we see others doing great ”exploits”. The greatest shall be a servant to all….oooh, servitude? Nope , I wanna fast track to holier than thou, uppity upper. Broaden the trim on my robe and give me the choice seat that my credentials demand. Lol…43 yrs of marriage has exposed the charlatan that I can be. Ever had the experience of getting 3 boys ready for church while fighting with your spouse?Amazing how tense feuding adults can quickly morph into honey dripping lips of social etiquette for total strangers. Sorry, I probably the only one to have experienced that.

  16. Scott Herron says:

    Well said. It may have been mentioned above but there was an article in Christianity Today a bout 6 months back that delivered a similar sentiment but addressed the David Platt and Francis Chan crowd directly. Here is the link. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/march/here-come-radicals.html

    Thanks for your thoughts here. As a pastor of youth and family I find that trying to convince them to do radical things leaves them radically disappointed.

    God Bless

  17. Lillie says:

    Not everyone can run around fulfilling the great commission.

    But somebody has to! Jesus told us to.

  18. wwillis says:

    The church has been infiltered by the soul snatchers, Hollywood, the media, and our goal to attain “our”, entitlement, 15 minutes of fame, and in that fame we will thank God in the manner of a celeb accepting an Oscar. All the time, the walk is the thing. The journey. The great paradoxes of the Words of Jesus. The being and “Being still.”
    Thank you for a well-written and much needed piece.

  19. Jenny says:

    I agree with Brad. I think both Peter and Frank have good points and are not at odds with each other. 1 Cor. 13 makes it clear that I can do all kinds of radical things, but if I have not love… Love is the key to living a radical, mission filled life.

    We are called to love the saints including our wives (or in my case husband), kids and those who know us well. And we are also called to love the lost and give of ourselves in a radical way to help them to reach the Father. Jesus certainly did that. If we have a radical moment in life, He was more radical and His greatest work is when He “humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross.” We never know when our humblest moments will be a radical moment in God’s hands.

    I think Peter is right, it is not about being a great success, and we often pressure our young people to be a “biggy in the brotherhood”. Some are called to be preachers, others evangelists, others dentists, school teachers, electricians, stay home moms, care takers or grandmothers. I’ve know quiet giants of the faith in thousands of different walks of life: in Africa, the U.S. and in Mexico. Once you get over the differences, the mundane, everyday life choices are the same. The mission is the same for all of us. It is not about what we are, or where we go. It is about who He is and whose we are. May we go and serve faithfully in every mission Our God lays before us.

  20. Janet Maxim says:

    Why does it have to be one or the other? We must be godly and faithful in our relationships and work, yes, but Jesus also told us to go sell everything and to preach the gospel to all nations–not so people will say we’re doing great things but because that’s what Jesus is doing, and we are his followers. Let’s be radical in obeying ALL he commands.

    • Peter Jones says:

      Janet, thanks for reading the post and commenting. I am not being snarky in my response, though it can come across that way. But have you done what Jesus said to do in those verses? Have you left everything behind and are you preaching the Gospel? My guess is that you will say no. So then why haven’t you? The answer is that you understand that those commands were given to specific people at specific times. That does not mean they do not apply. It just means that we have to work harder to apply them. For example, when Jesus told people to follow him he literally meant for them to leave their homes and land and go walk around Israel with him. Obviously we cannot do this because Jesus has ascended. So how does that verse apply to us when Jesus is not physically present? I agree that all of Jesus commands need to be understood and obeyed on some level. But that means they must be interpreted in context and applied properly. There are numerous commands of Christ to his disciples that we should not obey (Matthew 10:5-6). That does not we cannot learn something about missions work from Matthew 10, but it does mean obedience to those specific commands is not required. With Love, Peter

  21. wwillis says:

    Paul also tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and that it is God who works in us. I think following the promptings of the Holy spirit is key in this discussion.

  22. wwillis says:

    I realize that, but I was responding to comments regarding the quoted passages in Ephesians and comments relating to the command to go out into the world and preach the gospel. I’m not afraid, certainly not of anything related to faith in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit calls us to certain duties, and all of us are not called to preach outside of our immediate environments. The Holy Spirit directs. That’s all I was saying. Whether I’m a good Calvinist, I can’t say. We have different gifts and different commands about how to serve God.

  23. Erik Charter says:

    I liked your piece a lot.

  24. proregno says:

    About ten years ago I gave a lecture on the same topic more or less from Ephesians.

    I preached through Ephesians in my first congregation where I am currently still worshiping and serving.

    But, how much I needed to hear this message just again and again.

    Thank you Lord, thanks Peter !

    Greetings
    Slabbert
    1 Tim.1:15; 6:12.

  25. Barry says:

    I agree with your logic and theology although I think you approach the topic incorrectly. I think there’s this Catch 22 in Modern Christianity that says unless you are living a “radical” Christian life you’re not really living a Christ centered life and that’s incorrect. Books like Radical and Crazy Love can potentially make believers feel insecure about their walks and that’s not what they were designed for. Some people are called to stay right were they are and live out a Christian life in the context they are already in, however there are some people God calls to give up there life and go elsewhere. It’s all a matter of obedience in both situations

  26. Peter Jones says:

    Barry, I completely agree with you. There are certain men God calls to go and give everything up. Amen to that. I just think that a life where everything is given up has been glamorized in Christian circles over the last several decades. God’s blessing on you.

  27. Bill says:

    My initial reaction is that this guy first does not have a clue what it means to have a radical commitment, as Vernon Grounds calls it in his book Radical Commitment: Getting Serious About Christian Growth, or what David Platt talked about in his book, Radical. Platt starts by showing how the man after whom he desires to pattern himself, Jesus, was a radical who drove as many, maybe more, away with his hard requirements for entering the kingdom than he convinced to repent.

    He attempts to say that the second part of Ephesians is not radical. Are you kidding me? That is all radical stuff. My guess is this pastor now has a nice comfortable life with little stress other than to keep a few little old ladies happy in the pews. He doesn’t need to worry about the government coming into his Bible study, as happens in China or Nigeria or some other countries, and throwing the people into prison or even killing the leaders.

    Tell me the name of one disciple, men and women in the first two or three centuries, who was not radical in their commitment to not just follow, but to obey our Lord. Apparently he hasn’t read Acts or Romans. As we know, one can make a case for many things by selectively using Scripture.

    • Todd says:

      Be careful, Bill. These authors you quote are just men, too. They have no more authority to discern and interpret the meaning of scripture than anyone else.

      • joyfullyalive44 says:

        Yes they are men, but so was Paul and Peter, and many others who suffered for Christ. Even the writer of Ephesians quoted in the post.

        I will listen to men who are led by the holy spirit in their interpretation. We need to accept what is good, and discard what is not, testing everything according to Holy Spirit that resides in disciples of Jesus.

        The Bereans in acts were considered of noble character because they read the bible daily to see if what Paul said was true. Unfortunately the reality is that the extent of our bible reading as Christians is whatever passages are read on Sunday or in Sunday school. The testing and approving can’t be done when we don’t know the words of the bible, much less the spirit of said words. Not knowing the Spirit of the word, we can twist and use whatever verses we choose to fit into our own interpretation. Whatever our itching ears want to hear.

        It’s through being renewed continually that we can test and approve God’s Good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives and reject those that are not according to that spirit of holiness, of goodness. Our mind is renewed as we continue to abide in his love and in his word.

        I have had many paradigm shifts throughout the years. After being fooled by a religious leader in my youth, I’ve had still more. Many! They keep coming, because I keep asking God for deeper revelations. He’s renewing my mind. SOME people ARE further along that journey than I am. I will listen to them. They do have authority to teach, because God has trained them, equipped them and given them a grace to walk in that equipping. The deception in my path have given me new eyes to see and ears to listen. I want holy spirit to lead.

        I will continue to test their words, as I continue to abide in Jesus’, but when you say that they don’t have authority, I will use the words of John, “no one has anything unless it’s given to Him from Heaven.” John had authority because he communes with God and was led by His Spirit. Of course, he said that in light of saying that what he was given did not supersede Christ.

        As the body of Christ we are given authority. Jesus said we would do greater works because he is going to be with His Father.

        Unfortunately some misuse the authority or feign like they actually have it when they don’t, which is why we should always ask God, “led me to the truth.” Those fakers will hear, “Get away from me you evil doer, because I know you not,” thigh they say I the last day, “Didn’t I do much in your name?“ He doesn’t want our service as much as He wants us to know His great, know His ways, and cookie Him from that place of knowing.

        Jesus said that the holy Spirit would lead us to all truth, so those who make much of his Spirit and are willing to be led by it are those who I listen to the most, testing what they say all along, while praying, holy Spirit lead me to ALL truth again today and help be to test what is according to your Spirit and what is not, what is a little yeast that works through the whole batch, as Jesus would put it, and what is eternal.

  28. pam baker says:

    Dont let me bust bubbles…nowhere in scripture new covenant does it say tithe….

  29. When I read Radical and Crazy Love I didn’t get that a “radical” is someone that does amazing things or says there must be something more. Let me see if I can summarize: the calls to be radical aren’t radical at all…because…what’s radical should actually be normative Christianity. But I can tell you, where I live, that kind of normal IS radical, not only in my culture, but unfortunately in my church,too.

    • joyfullyalive44 says:

      You hit it right on the head, White! We are in this world but not of this world. In light of my heart wrenching experiences in church, we need to recapture the heart of Jesus as those who are willing to do and go, but First BE who He calls us to be.

      It says alot to me that when someone who really doesn’t want to “go there” in washing others feet (proverbially speaking) as Jesus does, highlights this blog post as her mantra!

      No! What I see throughout the Bible are people who are normal in the Jesus sense, because they are normal holy Spirit led individuals. People who are not led by their flesh’s propensity to disqualify God’s word for the sake of their traditions or what is easier for them. Jesus indicted the Pharisees in his day on earth for this! I think he feels the same now. He said they worship HIm with their mouths, but their hearts are far from HIM. Their teachings are but rules taught by men.

      We can know so much about God, but yet not know His ways, as my pastor shared Sunday. We can be so sincere, yet so sincerely wrong!

      Think about Jesus disciples when they asked if Jesus wanted to call fire down on the city for rejecting them. His response was, “you don’t know what spirit you are of.” We are of a different Spirit, those who are born from above…but some of us still don’t know that spirit because though we confess Christ we are not growing in the knowledge and revelation of who He is, His ways, and who we are in Him!

      We have the spirit of the living God coursing through our being. That should make us normal according to the SPIRIT, but radical according to worldly, complacent thinking.

      Our normal may be different, though. God had given us each a special grace to do what He’s predestined us to do, as far as good works. If one is looking at another’s work and calling it radical, perhaps God hasn’t given him or her the grace to do such and such thing, but let’s not look down on others in disdain, calling them religious freaks. The scriptures are the boundaries for our living. Not everyone has the same function in the body of Christ. Together we can live out the calling of the church to be a light to the world while also being the light in our homes and even when no one is looking to give us applause!

      Let’s ask God for what is the way He wants us to be radical in the eyes of this world, yet normal in the spiritual eyes of Holy Spirit for ourselves. It may look different, but it should all point to Him, Good!

      Let your light shine, friends, so that people will see the good or radical you do and glorify your father in Heaven. Radical is only in the eyes of the beholder. What lenses are we looking through. Holy Spirit’s or those of this world.

      Joyfullyalive.net

  30. […] Link: “How Ephesians Killed My Radical Christianity” […]

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