Posted by: stpowen | September 12, 2014

Wanted: Radicalized, Extremist Christians

Psalm 69:8. ‘Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.’

Recently, there was an article in the Daily Telegraph written by the new ‘Faith Minister,’ Eric Pickles.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11075321/The-fight-against-intolerance-begins-at-home.html
Much of the article is sound common sense. I have no idea of Mr. Pickles’ spiritual state, but he will surely be a better advocate for Christian freedom than the useless Baroness Warsi. Given the concerns over Islamist violence, it is only natural that Mr. Pickles should speak out against ‘extremism’ but it does seem to me that a bit of Christian extremism is exactly what we need these days. The mischievous thought occurred to me that Pickles should exchange jobs with the current Archbishop of Canterbury; he could hardly be more useless than Justin Welby, and Welby could join the Cabinet as Minister for Trade and Industry where he would surely be more comfortable, and is probably better qualified.

It is the dreadful, feeble, milquetoast Christianity that is prevalent in so many churches these days that has created the vacuum which militant Islam is filling. Inasmuch as young Moslems look at Christianity at all, they see a pathetic, feeble organization that has abandoned its own Holy Book and with it all moral values. If Moslems are to be won for Christ, the churches need to show that they actually believe what they profess and that they are not ashamed to proclaim it.

So what would radical, extreme Christianity look like? Well, it would surely mean being extremely like the Lord Jesus. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Extremely non-violent. ‘And His name shall be called…….Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). ‘Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree………’ (1 Peter 2:23-24). Secular governments may decide that it is necessary to go to war against Islamic State, but we should never give the impression that this is a Christian reaction to violence.

2. Extremely loving. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you’ (Matt. 5:43-44). I am very concerned at the anger and hatred being expressed towards Moslems, not only on secular blogs, which is to be expected, but also on Christian ones. If young Moslems were to read them, they would see a religion that is aggressive and hate-filled, just like their own. Why should they change?

3. Extremely righteous. Not in a Pharisaic way, of course, but a evangelical righteousness that longs to be more like our Lord. ‘With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you……..Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way’ (Psalm 119:10-11, 104). “Let your light so shine among men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). It is the testimony of many saved former Moslems that is was the kindness and peaceable nature of Christians that had the initial effect upon them. There needs to be something just a little bit different about us if we are to draw others to Christ.

4. Extremely zealous. ‘For the love of Christ compels us…………Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore [you] on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God’ (2 Cor. 5:14, 20). We should be carrying tracts, pocket Gospels or New Testaments around with us and praying that God will lead us into opportunities where we can give them away and speak a word about our Saviour. Nor must we give up in the face of repeated refusals: “No thanks; I’m not religious.” “Not interested thank you!” It’s heart-breaking when one receives continued rejection, but there is a promise we can hold on to. ‘And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart’ (Gal. 6:9).

5. Extremely firm on the Gospel. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to know that You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (John 6:68-69). “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). It has become very fashionable to water down the Gospel in preaching and witnessing so as to avoid giving offense. People don’t like to be told that they are sinners under the righteous anger of God. But what can we do? The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, and nothing else is. To preach anything but the truth that men and women are lost without Christ is to preach a lie and send men and women to hell with a pocket-full of false promises in their hands. ‘And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the wound of My people slightly, saying, “Peace, peace!” When there is no peace’ (Jer. 6:13-14).

6. Extremely tender to sinners, ‘But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us’ (1 Thes. 2:7-8). Though we must be firm and clear in our proclamation to those who are ignorant and unheeding towards the Gospel, to those who are struggling under the burden of sin we must gentle and kind, like our Lord (eg. Matt. 11:28).

7. Extremely prayerful. ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes 5:17). “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matt. 17:21). We cannot turn this nation back to God in our own strength. We need the supernatural power of God if the hard hearts of Britain are going to turn to God. But why should we despair? Did not He work in an amazing way in England back in the 18th Century, turning thousand to Christ through the ministry of Whitefield, Wesley and others? And is He not working even more remarkably in China, Africa and South America, where millions are coming to faith, and even in countries like Iran where all the persecution of the Ayatollahs cannot keep thousands from salvation. We have a God who is extremely powerful and extremely gracious to sinners. Let us be extremely busy doing His work.

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