Why the Critics Are Wrong: We're Not Radical Enough

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The problem isn’t that we are asking too much of Christians who seem content with ordinary Christian lives.

Over the last few years, I have been thrilled to watch an increasing number of American Christians explore the idea that their faith requires them to break out of the confines of their middle-class lives.

In response to a deep yearning and the clear message of some authors and speakers, many followers of Christ are adopting children, moving across town or across the ocean to minister to those in need, and discovering exciting new callings to live out the mission of God.

Unfortunately, some are labeling this all-in, life-altering activism as the “new legalism.”

Critics argue that we shouldn’t make people believe they have to reject suburbia to do amazing, cool and world changing things for Jesus.

In a Christianity Today cover story, the author wrote that the Good Samaritan didn’t do any of the things we call radical today. Instead, it was “as he traveled” that he did something ordinary. He helped a person out. We just need to be faithful, the author says, “in our corporate jobs, in our middle-class neighborhoods … reaching out in quiet, practical and loving ways.”

True. But that represents just the start of the all-in commitment that Christ calls us to.

I think the critics of radical Christianity have got it wrong—they are encouraging Christians to play it safe, keep it comfortable.

The problem isn’t that we are asking too much of Christians who seem content with ordinary Christian lives.

The problem—or should I say “opportunity”—is that the Gospel places much higher demands on Christians. We aren’t being radical enough!

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are supposed to actually follow Jesus Christ—the man whose radical message got him killed. Certainly, Jesus was on a unique mission, but nearly all of his earliest followers also gave up their lives.

Richard  Stearns Richard Stearns is President of World Vision. Since joining World Vision U.S. in 1998, Stearns also has participated in the larger World Vision Partnership, leading efforts to refine the organization's business practices and advocating for global impact standards to evaluate program effectiveness.

More from Richard Stearns or visit Richard at http://www.worldvision.org

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