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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Radically Simple

You used to hear this expression constantly, though now the term has fallen on hard times: Counter-cultural. Usually when that term was (or “is”) used, it carried the idea of doing something wild and wooly, radical and rambunctious for Jesus. And that kind of talk sells - it sells books, bracelets, Bibles, seminars, signs and songs. But truly, when Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him, it is normally in the simplest, right-there-in-your-own-backyard kind of ways. As an example, if you want to watch your Christian faith stir up resistance, alarm, gossip and trouble, do this: wholeheartedly practice the sacredness of the Lord’s Day. You want to talk about counter-cultural! I could give you a small catalog of the trouble it has caused me and my family over the years; everything from being asked if I belonged to a cult, to being ridiculed by peers.

To put it all simply, to be “Radical” and “Counter Cultural” in our Christian walk does not normally require us to go forth and be extreme (though there are times and situations it might). Instead it is to be consistent with the basic, plain, ordinary, little things Christ directs us to do. As our Lord said, "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much” (Luke 16.10; 19.17; Matt. 25.21). Keeping the sacredness of the Lord’s Day is a good, little place to start.

But I warn you. As you step out in unswerving fidelity, you will find that “Christian America” and especially your small piece of it where you live, will step up against you. It will usually come in subtle ways, like through sports, scouting, extended family, and friends. No one will understand why you put Christ’s day before and above any of their events and plans. Then the temperature will increase as you persist in quietly, gently, simply keeping the Lord’s Day. Before you know it fellow Christians, co-workers, neighbors, other families of your kids’ teams, will begin to whisper behind your back, and make smiling verbal jabs at you. Then slowly, some will begin to spurn and ignore you, and others will try to argue you down. You might even get hotly asked by the coach, or the dance instructor, "What are you? Mormons or something?!" The temptation to compromise will increase, and the stakes will get a bit higher.

Nevertheless, in doing this little thing, you will be denying yourself, taking up your cross and following our Lord. You will be truly radical and counter-cultural.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.”


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