Extreme is not so Extreme

This Sunday our Pastor John Douglas gave a challenging and thought-provoking message entitled “Extreme Unity.”  This was the fourth message in ACC’s current “iWitness” series, based on the book of Acts.  If you missed Sunday’s message, I would strongly encourage you to listen to it HERE.  In the message, John makes several crucial points.

  • First, any organization must be united in order to succeed.
  • Second, the witness of the church is directly affected by the church’s ability to unite.
  • And third, unity comes at a cost.

Most of us are ready to stand up and declare that we must be united behind Christ’s mission, but few of us are ready to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve that unity.

Uniting for the cause of Christ takes intentionality. It takes time and prayer.  It takes coordinating with one another, strategizing and planning.  It also may require us to lay down some things – like time, and money.  It may require us to go deeper and get messier in relationships – depending on where the Spirit leads.

In particular, John spoke from Acts 2 and 4, citing the examples of the early church, who met together daily, giving to any who had need, breaking bread with one another, and in doing so, incurred the favor of all the people.

From the typical vantage point of the American lifestyle, people who live the way I just described are considered “extreme.”  That takes extreme conviction, extreme commitment. Those people are radical.

So here is my challenging thought for the day: Which lifestyle is truly more extreme or radical?

Is the life of following Jesus as depicted in the New Testament extreme? Or could it be that we have things backwards?

John referenced the tragic story of the Costa Concordia, a cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy just a few weeks ago.  The world was outraged at the report that the captain of the ship – the one responsible for running the ship aground – insisted on being the first to abandon ship.  Ordinary protocol says that the captain is supposed to ensure the safety of all aboard as his main priority.

But what if Jesus used boat language to say that each of us is responsible for leading a ship?  Or perhaps the ship represents our world – created to sail with magnificence and beauty, but now sinking as a result of the Fall?

We look at trends in our culture – the decline in moral values, the rampant poverty, sex trafficking, economic decline, marital dysfunction.  I read a report recently that said the amount of orphans in the nation of India at present is roughly equal to the entire population of Canada.  Wow! Our world is hurting. There is need. The ship is sinking.

So from an eternal perspective, which is more extreme?  You’re on a boat that has run aground.  The ship is listing to the side.  Thousands are in danger.  Is it more radical to respond in a united effort to save lives, or to pretend that there is no problem to begin with?

The truth is, Acts chapter 2 and 4 give us pictures of what should be “normal life” as part of God’s Kingdom.  “Crazy,” is living like there is no eternity – devoting most of our time and energy to things that have little or no eternal significance.  Our families, neighbors, communities, and nation are in terrible jeopardy, but our media-driven culture insists that we choose to live for comfort and pleasure – indeed, we are entitled to these things.  That, in my mind, seems crazy – and yet in many ways I find myself stuck in the rut of that very trap.

I’ll end this post by citing Francis Chan, who, when asked the question “Do you think God calls you to live a radical, crazy life?” Responded this way:

“It’s not that this (biblical, kingdom-focused) lifestyle should be crazy to us. It should be the only thing that makes sense. Giving up everything and sacrificing everything we can for the afterlife is logical. “Crazy” is living a safe life and storing up things while trying to enjoy our time on earth, knowing that any millisecond God could take your life. To me that is crazy, and that is radical. The crazy ones are the ones who live life like there is no God. To me that is insanity.”

 

Mike Rauwolf

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