Saturday, May 05, 2007

Radical Christianity?

We hear a lot about radical Christianity these days. Whether from the Emergent church world, or from social religionists, people like Brueggemann, and others, we hear that true Christianity is radical – that it goes against the grain, against the status quo. If we really buy into Christianity, our lives would be counter-cultural. Sometimes we get the idea that if we were real Christians, we’d live in communes - maybe in the forest, dress like monks, and cease most interaction with those outside our community.

I know that is an extreme caricature, few people would advocate eliminating outside contact, and most don’t espouse communal living. Most advocates of this style of spiritual living aren’t arguing that you can’t work on Wall Street and be a Christian, but they do want us to think about others (and the environment) first, rather than buying the latest Lexus. The picture created is that true Christians have a different set of priorities, different views of what is important both eternally and in the present. And I think that’s a good thing – they are on to something. And so we paint a picture of Christianity being radical – almost alien – to ourselves, or to the way most people live.

While I can agree that Christianity does look different than what we normally see portrayed on TV, or perhaps even at the office, I’m not sure that real Christianity is that much a radical departure from who we are, nor is it alien to our human being. Rather, Christianity is a return to who we were made to be and as such, is completely “normal” for humans. Christianity isn’t as radical as we sometimes think it is, although I understand the idea of transformation. It’s just that I see that transformation as being the completion of a cycle rather than something entirely new.

Humans were designed, were originally made, to be the image of God. A rather simplistic explanation of this image bearing is that we are spiritual beings, being in that way different from all other creatures and like God. While that may be true, it does not go far enough. Bearing the image of God, as the created design for humans is the bearing of God’s character within us. We are like God – we bear His image – in that we hold within ourselves the drives and values that mirror God.

I will not argue that we have not become distracted, corrupted, lost in our humanness. But being lost – misguided – does not destroy the image that we bear at our core. It is generally understood that the happiest people on the planet are not those who are chasing the latest and greatest. It is not the famous and rich that are happy. Rather, those people who are most often said to be the most contented, the most well-adjusted, are those who are almost the opposite of the popular ones. These people don’t spend their time chasing stuff, or fame, or recognition. They generally are described with at least two characteristics: satisfaction with who they are and what they have, and giving spirits. The happiest humans it seems are not those that reflect the epitome of society we see on television. Rather, they are those who reflect what Christians know to be key attributes of God.

You will notice that these people are not necessarily Christians or particularly religious, but they are the most contented. This should not be surprising to us since they have somehow made contact with the image in which they were made. The transformation of people through the Spirit is a transformation that changes us from prideful, self-centered people into disciples that submit to others, that seek others’ benefit above our own, and who learn to be content with what God has given to us and made us to be. In short, Christian transformation is a return to that existence and view of life with which humans were created from the beginning.

In this sense, Christianity is anything but radical, it is not alien to humans. It is rather, the very expression of who we were created to be. It is not some artificial form of behavior, of doing church, of relationship building. It is rather, the most natural expression of life that we could find.

Welcome and legal mumbojumbo

Welcome to my corner of cyberspace! Make yourself at home and enjoy a few minutes of reading. Everything here (text and pictures), unless otherwise indicated, is original and enjoys copyright protection. For re-use information, please contact me directly.

Information provided here is simply the creation of the author and is not intended as life advice, counseling, or therapy for anyone else. The use of any information found on this site is entirely at the discretion of the reader as they see fit for themselves. The author makes no claims to any particular expertise, experience, or training appropriate to justify basing any life, career, or any other type of decision on any of it.