Monday, July 12, 2010

More Radical


We were discussing being “radical” for Jesus the other night in group and I smiled as I left because I knew God had been working in me and I knew that there was a message I needed to get out.  I’m working on this message in my book, coming soon, The Complexity of Simplicity.  I’ve really found myself a great community of people who share my faith in Jesus as God’s solution to our brokenness.  I’ve been on a hectic journey from radical to apathetic within my 4 years in Indianapolis.  I’ve swung from staunch conservative to flaming liberal and feel myself becoming somewhat of a blazing moderate.  I’ve gone from wondering how I could ever live beyond the streets of downtown Indianapolis as a single man to tearing up at the thought of not being with my future wife.  I’ve said never and always in contradictory statements.  A professor early on in my college career told me that we are pendulum people and that we naturally swing to extremes and that the middle is the most stable ground, the one we should seek.  Now that I am far from what I’d call as radical I suppose my perspective is different and more empathetic for those who toss and turn over being that which I would call my former methodology. 
We were reading an article on the issue of being “radical” for Christ and there was a statement made by a very zealous person within the article in regards to being” radical” and “normal.”  This statement sent an odd sense of laughter, heart wrenching sadness, and hope through my body.  This young man was new to the faith and was told to read a classic piece of literature called, “A Normal Christian Life.”  He did not bother reading this because he wanted more from God than a normal Christian life.  A brief synopsis of this statement seemingly is the rally cry for good things.  Expecting and wanting more from God seems so godly and righteous.  Let me tell you friend, wanting more from God is a dangerous façade that eats away at the soul of men.  This is typically where readers think they have me nailed down to a certain camp, liberal or conservative, but I’d plead with you to continue examining these declarations.  I want more from God.  This is a simple statement that is heavy with assumption and deep theological misunderstandings and misleading I believe.  The very idea of wanting more from God necessitates a limitation upon him.  To want more of something would be a way of saying that it does not satisfy you.  If you arrogantly baulk at this I’d challenge you to apply this reasoning to other aspects of reality.  We want more food because our appetites are not sustained.  We want more love because the temporary emotional or physical stimulation soon fades and is not enough to meet a certain amount of desire we have.  We want more education because we don’t feel we have enough to get to something else.  Desires are selfish expressions.  To want more God implies He is not enough.  To want more of God also entails that we have a better idea of what his capacity should be.  What if God told you all he wanted you to do was to work at Starbucks and gave you no more plans or promises?  Would you be satisfied?  The answer in a vacuum of honesty would be, of course, no!  We want to do great things right?  We want to be awesome for God!  I’d simply ask this question of those who want more of God or want to do more…why?
This is not a rhetorically formed jab at anyone who desires God, but an honest question that requires intellectual answering.  Is it that we want more God because we have this preconceived notion of what best or better is?  Could it be we seek to reach a goal we have in our minds?  Is outrageous heavenly real estate beckoning your labor?  Is it that we believe God is a means to an end?  I think I may have just caused someone’s grandmother to faint in the back of a sanctuary somewhere in Georgia.  Such blasphemy right?  Am I so irreverent that I think religious people would use God?  Frankly, yes.  So many want more of God so that they can get more.  I think that that very logic is flawed and expresses a deeper misunderstanding of God.  God leads those who follow him into this deep upside down path that leads to a kingdom that doesn’t fit within our accessible imagination.  God is all about less and last.  If we got all the God we could get we would be further down the ladder than we want to be.  Desiring God to get atop the ladder is counterintuitive. 

I propose something so scandalous that if I have not already got you praying for my salvation I assume you begin your heartfelt mercy pleas tonight.  I propose so many want more of God so that they can use Him to get what they want.  Serve more to be seen as a better person.  Give more to get blessed more.  So on and so forth this mysterious riddle unfolds and truly reveals itself as idol worship.  Idol worship because the idea of betterment is what lie beneath the desire for God.  If God is simply a way to get something than He is nothing more than a tool.  My final proposal is that many seek so much God because they seek control.  What if we woke up in the morning and acknowledged we were not in control?  What if we proceeded within our “ordinary, un-remarkable” lives as if God was enough?  What if there was no more God we could get?  I believe this to be true.  God is in us and his Spirit is full and surely enough.  I am puzzled why so many want more when He has given all of himself already.  Want to be radical?  Maybe being radical is not so much smoke and fireworks but more subtle and silent.  Maybe being radical is a thought process a principle in which we live by, a principle that is birthed in the reality that God is in full control and what we have is enough and we should not want more.

The search for more, the journey to radicalism is burdensome and exhausting.  It took me a long time to realize God Is exactly who He said He is and is plenty enough, but once I found myself there I truly experienced freedom.  It is a daily struggle to relinquish control and the desire for more, but what a sweet release it is, what a radical thing it is to believe God, honestly.