Over the past several weeks and months we’ve all watched in horror/stunned amazement as the world seems to be disintegrating into chaos. The radical Islamic group ISIS appears to have walked out of nowhere and is now spreading havoc across the Arab world. The violence in the Middle East has gotten so bad that once again the United States is being drawn into an armed conflict, not against a nation but against a radical ideology. Western Africa is experiencing the worst outbreak of the dreaded Ebola virus in history and according to recent reports there is an 18% chance that the virus could reach America by the end of the month. Perhaps most alarming of all, the entire world watches in fear as the crisis between Russia and Ukraine threatens to plunge Europe into another bloody conflict. Everywhere we look we see trouble and chaos but rather than lamenting the challenging times we live in I believe that Christians should be embracing them as one of the greatest opportunities for the advancement of the gospel in history. At the risk of borrowing a word from David Platt I would like to suggest that the radical times we live in demand a radical response from Christian who aren’t content to just watch events from the sideline but who will engage in the battle and conquer the world with a RADICAL devotion to Jesus Christ.
WE NEED TO RESPOND TO RADICAL HATE WITH RADICAL LOVE
The world is filled hate. The radical Islamists who make up ISIS hate the West and especially the United States. While we can use our military might to protect innocent people from being harmed by these radical terrorists, violence alone will never be able to change the hearts of those who hate. The flames of Radical hate are only fanned into a more intense blaze by responding with violence alone. Instead, we must be willing to follow the more difficult and much harder path. Rather than resorting to violence alone, we must also offer another hand. With the hand of justice we can seek to punish but with the other hand of mercy we must reach out to minister to both the victim and the perpatrator of violence. This is where Christians can be particularly effective. We know this principle because Jesus taught us to “love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:43-48) He also taught us to “do good for those who hate us.” (Luke 6:27-38) This is the way that we can change hearts and it doesn’t have to start in the Middle East we can start in our own back yard.
WE NEED TO RESPOND TO RADICAL IMMORALITY WITH RADICAL OBEDIENCE
Over the past couple of years I’ve heard a great deal of discussion over the issues of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. While I strongly believe that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage is wrong, my greater concern is that sometimes we spend all of our time condemning sin in others without pursuing radical obedience in our own lives. Jesus said, “…remove the plank from you own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Rather seeking to find the sin in other people’s lives, our goal should be to strive with all of our might to be obedient to God in every area of our lives. This will make far more difference in the world.
WE NEED TO REPSOND TO RADICAL NEED WITH RADICAL GIVING
When we look around the world and around or community we can see all kinds of needs — needs that we can meet through giving of our time, money, and talents. Acts 20:35 says that “…it is more blessed to give than to receive.” The truth is that we’ve been given much so that we can give much.