“Suppose every follower of Jesus of Nazareth were as obedient to His commands as the Jihadists are to Muhammad and Allah?”
This question was raised in a recent transcript by columnist Cal Thomas. It’s a thought-provoking question. An intriguing question. A challenging question.
Of course, Thomas was not advocating the use of violence or terrorism to advance the cause of Christ. He was speaking to the issue of commitment. Obviously, Islamic extremists are very committed to their cause. They are willing to die for their misguided beliefs as they commit Jihad in the name of Allah.
Too often Christians have the mistaken idea that commitment is about going to church every week, singing hymns, listening to a sermon and giving a token financial contribution when the plate is passed! Commitment to Christ is more than giving thanks before we eat or daily Bible reading. Commitment goes beyond listening to “religious music” in the place of secular songs. Nor is it supporting your favorite conservative candidate for a political office!
Real commitment to Christ involves a change in attitude and actions. It is developing “the mind of Christ” (Phil 2:5). An attitude of compassion, consecration, and courage. It’s more than just saying, “Lord, Lord!” It’s actually doing what the Lord requires of us (Matt 7:21). It’s about obedience. Self-sacrifice. And personal involvement in the lives of others. It’s about getting our hands dirty in service of our Savior!
While we look at Muslims who are ready to die for Allah as radicals, Jesus calls Christians to a radical faith in a world that renounces religion and repudiates spiritual values. Consider some the “radical” teachings of Christ.
The sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) has been called radical. Jesus challenges his followers to a higher standard. To do more than abstain from adultery, to refrain from lust. To do more than love our friends, to love our enemies. To bless those who curse us and to do good to those who hate us. Yes, even Jihadists who want to kill us!
Jesus’ timeless message confronts us where we live. He addresses our critical attitudes, our materialistic goals, and our needless worry. He even dares to point out the problem of hypocrisy in our religion. And he reminds of the danger of divided loyalty and the serious consequences of mindlessly following the majority.
His teaching sounds radical when he says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
And if that’s not enough, Jesus confidently proclaims that His way is the only way! The right way! The way to God! To the questioning Thomas, Jesus affirmed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)
The truth about Jesus is extremely unpopular today in our secular society. But it is the Truth! Maybe, it’s time for Christians to learn a lesson from the Jihadists and get radical. No, not in violent revolution. But in powerful faith. Passionate testimony. Persistent good works. And personal commitment to Christ.
Are you ready to get radical?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman