Sunday, February 11, 2007

Radical, Dude! Keys to the Deeper Life- Part 1

This is the first in a series of posts on A.W. Tozer's, Keys to the Deeper Life. It's difficult to know where to begin...there are so many good "jumping off points." So I guess I'll start with some quotes (in red) out of Chapter 1: "Leaning Into the Wind."

Most evangelicals no longer initiate; they imitate, and the world is their model. The holy faith of our fathers has in many places been made a form of entertainment....

It's not difficult to see that for most of the evangelical world, our Christian faith doesn't inform our entire life, our entire being. Rather, it is compartmentalized, brought out when it fits, and kept firmly locked away when it doesn't. We aren't initiating by living a life that is separate and distinctly Christian. Instead we are living a lot like the world, investing in the trinkets and comforts, educating our children in the same manner, living lives so busy we can't begin to form relationships with anyone outside our families, and in some cases, so busy we can't grow the relationships inside our families! And yet we go to church, read our Bibles, pray, have quiet time...but still live in most ways similar to the world. It's duplicitous…and James 1:8 tells us a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways....

That note of protest which began with the New Testament and which was always heard loudest when the Church was most powerful has been successfully silenced. The radical element in testimony and life that once made Christians hated by the world is missing from present-day evangelicalism. Christians were once revolutionists -- moral, not political -- but we have lost our revolutionary character. It is no longer dangerous or costly to be a Christian. Grace has become not free, but cheap. We are busy these days proving to the world that they can have all the benefits of the gospel without any inconvenience to their customary way of life. It's "all this, and heaven, too."

The church once stood in stark opposition to the world…in today's vernacular, the church would be “radical," and that's meant to be a pejorative. Jesus reminds us that the ruler of this world is Satan, so one would expect when the light that is the church shines brightly into the world, exposing its offerings for the lies that they are, there would be opposition...hatred! Being a “radical” Christian was dangerous and costly. Do I want danger and cost? Honestly? No. But do I want a real, authentic, close, intimate relationship with Christ, one that fills and stirs my soul in only the way Christ can? Absolutely. What if that means danger and cost? Well…if the choice is between knowing Christ in a close, intimate way or staying at a distance in order to remain “safe,” then bring on the danger and cost! It is the fruit of that close relationship with Christ, especially in the face of danger and cost, that witnesses the saving power of the Gospel to a dark and hurting world! God promises us the grace to endure, and while that type of grace is free, it most certainly is not cheap!

Tozer decries grace that has become cheap, and given that grace is God’s means of salvation, to cheapen it is to slap Jesus and His sacrifice in the face. Paul makes it very, very clear that we are not to continue to sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1-2). A Christian is to abhor sin, to mortify it, to strive in the power of the Holy Spirit for holiness and Christlikeness. When we proclaim the Gospel as “free” and mean there is no post-conversion requirement for obedience, for change, and for holiness, we proclaim “cheap” grace and a false gospel. And worse…when we as Christians “prove” to the world through our own example, the benefits of “Gospel without inconvenience”, we are living a life of cheap grace that both misrepresents our Savior and lacks the power to stand in the face of any opposition at all. A life of obedience to Christ will be inconvenient in the eyes of the world, but it is the only life that is truly fulfilling because it is the only life that draws us closer and closer to our Savior in a real and tangible way.

A person who strives to live this kind of life, to know Christ in a manner that is more than an intellectual exercise, to bring His light into the darkness of this world will be labeled a “radical”…and it’s appropriate, because he is radical compared to the milque-toast, culturally-relevant, culture-embracing, seeker-sensitive evangelical church of today.

Wear the label with the same humility of another “radical”…your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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