There are a number of preachers and teachers today who call Christians in America to live a “radical” (=normal and biblical) life. They are blazing their guns (rightly so) against the “cheap grace” that pervades American Christianity. Against the religious culture that creates folks who get their Jesus hand stamp and live just like their neighbors. Absent of true repentance and faith in a life-changing, new-life-bringing King. Just a free pass by the heavenly turnstile when they die.
Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. And, like I said, a number of preachers and teachers call Christians in America to a “different” Christianity. They call us to follow Jesus to Calvary and die to self. Their voice is appropriate and needed. Because that is what Jesus himself calls us to. It’s what Paul says happens when the God graciously yanks out a heart of stone and implants one of flesh. No new desires, hopes, dreams, and loves means you don’t actually have a new heart. You don’t actually know Jesus. You haven’t actually partaken of the grace you claim covers you.
Recently, while reading through the bestselling, biblical, and helpful book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I got to his chapter on the “Profile of the Lukewarm.” He lists 18 (I think) things that generally characterize lukewarm (i.e. not true) Christians. By and large, I think his list is helpful for taking honest stock of how we live our lives. A call to such Christlikeness is needed and appropriate.
But I have a concern.
I worry that someone reading Crazy Love, or listening to X preacher calling them to what Jesus himself does will then gauge their spirituality by the “radicalness” of their Christian life. To use Chan’s title–they will judge their relationship with God by their “crazy love” for him, rather than by his “crazy love” for them. The second one is the Gospel. The first one is not. The first one is simply repackaged and death-giving law. It is works righteousness. It is the opposite of the gospel.