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Friday, September 15, 2006

"Radical Christianity"

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (John 15:18,19).  "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." (1 John 3:13).

Rosie O'Donnell, a popular entertainer whom I know little about, recently stated on U.S. Television that "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam." That's an amazing statement and is one more indication of the direction our culture is headed and the world's increasingly hateful attitude toward followers of Christ.

I am quite certain that I would be considered a radical Christian by Rosie and that's just fine by me.  Indeed I am a radical Christian in the sense of commitment, seriousness and being sold out to the cause of Christ. I take the words of my Lord and the Bible seriously and seek to obey them.  Actually I don't think I'm nearly as radical as I should be based upon what I read in the New Testament and the complete surrender to Christ that we are called to make. In complete honesty, I'm still holding on to this world more than I should.  I certainly am not as radical as scores of my dedicated brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are really paying a price for following Christ and experiencing the hatred of the world. So many are beaten, imprisoned and killed for their faith.

I don't want to be hated. I want to be loved and accepted by everyone or at least by as many as possible. I certainly don't try to offend. But I also want to be true to my call in faithfully proclaiming the Name of Jesus Christ to a dying world. This expression of our Christian faith is increasingly being called radical and perceived as dangerous by the world system.

In the first daily text the Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to His disciples just prior to His death. These final instructions in John's Gospel are among the most familiar portions of God's Word. Most of you who have followed Christ for any length of time have very likely memorized at least some verses from John 13-17.

I have tended to skip over today's texts without giving them much thought. For the most part in my life they just haven't applied to me.  I have perhaps considered it as relevant for the people to whom they were initially written or perhaps to modern-day believers elsewhere. In my own lifetime I do not perceive that I have been hated because I follow Christ.

But that's changing and it's changing quickly, practically furiously. At 51 years of age it's hard to believe, but dominant culture shows an increasing disdain for Jesus Christ and His serious followers and reckons radical Christianity as a grave danger.

One distressing accommodation is when those with a Christian background seek to find acceptance with the world and avoid offending others by eliminating what seems to be the greatest source of offense; the Name of Jesus Christ.

Join me in boldly and unashamedly proclaiming the Name of Jesus Christ! Let us take a radical stand for the Truth.  And as we do so, quite frankly, we must prepare to be increasingly hated by the world.  Jesus said we would be.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen C. Weber

Prayer: Lord, You know the spiritual pulse of my heart.  The allurement to go with the popular and trendy way of thinking is ever before me.  This is especially true since I'm barraged with these kinds of messages each day. There are even some who are subject daily to these messages in their own families.   Help me to be intentional in taking a bold stand as I go against the waves of humanism and false religious systems.

May my love and devotion to You, Jesus, rise up and overtake any fear or intimidation that would paralyze my witness in settings where Your name is not revered.  I love You, Jesus, and since I no longer belong to this world I will never find a comfortable place here.  Since You chose to take me out of the world my place of comfort is in the eternal, sinless heaven which is the future home for the redeemed.  Give me grace and endurance in the meantime to be a faithful witness even when hated and maligned by others.  Amen.

As we considered a song that would go along with today's theme Brooksyne recalled a song called "Say The Name" but we were unable to find a suitable audio version. In searching we did find a song that fits well in regard to being totally committed to Christ called "All I Once Held Dear" Audio   Lyrics  
For many years we've enjoyed and sung the music of Graham Kendrick.  His lyrics are rich and very Scripturally based.  He stands out as a very generous musician in that he makes his songs, music sheets, lyrics, power point, etc. available on his website.  It really is amazing how many songs he has written!

If you sense a certain passion in the encouragement message today you are absolutely correct! Let me recommend a book that really clarifies this issue; "The Name" by Franklin Graham.

Another book I would recommend is titled "The Criminalization of Christianity"
Thoughtful links on worldview issues and apologetics. These are the main sites. You will need to probe through the directories for articles that may be of interest to you.
Probe Ministries
Christian Information Ministries
Leadership University
Stand to Reason

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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