Friday, September 02, 2011

Radical Discipleship (is there any other kind?)

My friend Simon Moyle (non-violence teacher and activist, Jesus follower), wrote an interesting article yesterday, or actually today since he is ahead of us by 14 or so hours. READ HERE In it he asks the question as to weather you can be a "casual" disciple. Or whether you can separate those that have a "special" calling, from those that are supposed to live a fairly normal life and maybe support some of these radicals.

Now Simon is way more "radical" than I. And there are other folk that are more radical than he. Its not a competition, but an orientation towards following the radical, revolutionary Jesus.

My whole life I have been a bit of a radical. I would jump off the top of the monkey bars in kindergarden, just because it was scary. I bull fought at 15 years of age. I skateboarded in swimming pools and vert ramps, and was a mma fighter. I like radical, I am inclined towards radical. And I naturally would place this inclination towards my faith.

Following that reasoning, I wanted to live in South Central, or North Long Beach, or some where really "hardcore", when we returned to America. I really want to be... radical. But the truth is, most of this is my ego. Ego and pride are not the way of Jesus. Through a series of dreams and the interpretations of these dreams by community members, and circumstance, we wind up in a neighborhood that is in between, not hardcore, but not sleepy suberbs. The Popeyes chicken on the corner does have bullet proof glass, but we don't have gang violence next door. And I am convinced we are where we are meant to be. And we are living as faithfully as we can to the radical call of Jesus in our present place. We are sharing our breakfast on Sundays with the homeless in the park, we are cultivating a small community garden, we are living in a shared housing situation, learning more about open purse living. We are doing stuff that is heading in the direction of radical, and to be honest, we want to be more so.

So, what is my point? My point I guess is this: Following Jesus is a journey, and it is our direction that is really the point. There are differing gifts, and differing applications. We will not all look like Jarrod McKenna, Shane Claiborne, or Simon Moyle. But we cannot stop our journey by saying, "well I am just not called to that" Ours should be, for everyone of us, a constant challenge towards a more complete following of Jesus, which calls us to radical love, radical confronting of the powers, radical opposition to oppression, and radical deconstruction of the kingdoms of this world. It is this orientation towards becoming more like Jesus, that is the goal.

So for some of us that are out on the fringe, the truth is most likely that we have embraced this crazy discipleship maybe sooner, maybe through our personality, or maybe because of great teaching and mentors, and we need to stand strong in our calling. But in that we need to gently call people to take steps in the direction of Jesus, and His radical cross carrying way, with lots of grace and encouragement. NO ONE, INCLUDING THOSE "RADICAL DISCIPLES" CAN STAY WHERE THEY ARE, WE ARE ALL CALLED TO KEEP DRAWING EVERY CLOSER TO JESUS AND THE WAY OF THE CROSS

I hope that makes some sense



Anonymous said...

I guess one radical thing for someone with an ego that longs to go to South Central etc would be to live in a nice undangerous suburb and do the pastoral work that is necessary there.
I once heard a lecture by an old guy who led a radical life: He was in the German army in WW2 and did saboutage to hinder further harm, then his life led him around the globe, he got involved in anti war movements and worked for amnesty, he got tortured in Vietnam (his wife too, she died) lost his son to the Khmer Rouge (he was even more radical and died in the war), but also had contacs to like Jimmy Carter, went beyong the iron curtain in the 70ies and 80ies to meet with christian congregations (he became a minister to a Canadian church I think)...
At the end of his speech he said, that in the 80ies, the pastors would have been in the frontlines of the peace demonstrations (at least in Germany) and nowadays not any more.
While having a lot of respect before this man, I think it is true what another pastor who was there with me said afterwards: If all pastors go to demonstrations, to war zones and what not, who is at home to care for granny Miller? For she certainly also needs a pastor, though this isn't such a spectacular service. And honestly: I guess the people that live in good conditions are oftentimes the lest interested in faith, church and Christ. But maybe this is also a eurocentrical pov.

john jensen said...

well I have a bit of an issue with what you said, not the heart of it though. This issue is simply... why does everyone seem to be called to "take care of granny Miller in the suburbs"? And, how is old granny Miller being called to be a disciple in her life?

There is this great defensiveness by the status quo, that seeks to stay the status quo. The truth is, be faithful in whatever situation you are in, to serve the radical revolutionary Jesus. But we live in a world that sets wealth, security and status as primary goals. As Christ followers then... we must confront the spirit of this age