A couple of weeks ago, as our leaders prayed together, God
gave me the word, “radical.” When I
shared it with the group, one of our house group pastors remarked that he got
the same word from God a few weeks before and had been teaching on it. The word radical, as used by God, is not the
same as “weird” or “revolutionary.” Our
Lord Jesus was considered a “radical” by the Pharisees and religious leaders of
the day. The same was true regarding His
disciples and the early church. If we
compare the lives of God’s heroes in the Bible with our normal Christian living
today, their lives would definitely be radical.
Watchman Nee wrote a book entitled, The Normal Christian
Life, in which he expounded on what the Bible tells us about the truly
born-again Christian life. The apostle
Paul’s life, desires and attitudes are what Jesus Christ calls “normal” for all
followers of the Lord. “And he that taketh not his cross, and
followeth after Me is not worthy of Me.”
Mt. 10:38. “Then said Jesus to His disciples, If any men will come after Me, let
him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me; for whosoever will save
his life, shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall
find it.” Mt. 6:24, 25; Mk. 8:24;
Mk. 10:21; Lk. 9:23; Lk. 14:27.
The apostle Paul was not afraid of death and even felt that
being with Christ in heaven was far better than life on earth. “According
to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but
that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my
body, whether it be by life, or by death.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit
of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a
desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better: nevertheless to
abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” Phil. 1:20-24. “Nevertheless,
whereto we have already attained, let us walk by thje same rule, let us mijnd
the same thing. Brethren, be followers
together of me, and mark them which walk
so as ye have us for an example.”
Paul taught the Christians of his day, to “follow us (the
apostles),” who were examples to them.”
2 Th. 3:7, 9. The apostle Peter
spoke of how every Christian should follow Jesus Christ, our example. “For
even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us
an example, that ye should follow His steps.” 1 Pet. 2:21.
We will following the examples of Jesus and His disciples?
There is a wonderful book entitled, Lilies Amongst Thorns,
written about Christians in mainland China in the mid-1950’s who were severely
beaten, hunted down, tortured, imprisoned and killed because they refused to
deny Jesus Christ. The book is no longer
in print and was published in the UK.
Young teenagers, including girls, would travel to different provinces,
sleep in the snow and under trucks, with Bibles and tracts in their back packs,
to preach the gospel of salvation. It
was illegal to travel outside of your own area without government permit. They were often beaten severely, thrown into
prison and starved. Millions of
Christians in mainland China
were martyred for Christ. Some were
imprisoned for thirty-five or fifty years for holding secret church
services. One Christian was imprisoned
for ten years for distributing Bibles.
The day after he was released, he was on his bicycle passing out Bibles. China has experienced the greatest
revival/harvest in the twentieth century.
It is estimated that there were over one-hundred million Christians in China by the
end of the century.
I’ve met pastors in India who were imprisoned and beaten
for preaching the Bible. Once, my wife
and I ministered in Orissa,
within a year, hundreds of Christian homes were burned to the ground and many
pastors were killed. Even this past
year, thousands of Christians were forced to leave their homes and live in the
wilderness. I met a pastor in Orissa who
showed me the many scars on his back that he endured for preaching the
gospel. In Orissa, people were walking
in the dark on jungle roads at 2 a.m. to get to church next morning and I saw
signs on the highway with a picture of a tiger and words that said, “Beware of
Tigers!” according to our hosts.
When my wife and I ministered in mainland China among
house churches, we would meet secretly.
The place would be packed with fifty people in a living room, and people
in the hallways and lanais. There were
watchmen outside to warn us if the police came.
One woman told me, “If you see us running around and screaming, it’s the
police coming to arrest us. But don’t
worry because you are from America
and they will release you.” People came
to our meetings after traveling for two hours on a train to get there with
their young infant who was one month old.
They would sleep overnight on the floor and leave the next morning for
their home in the mountains. Police were
everywhere. Our poor driver was arrested
for loitering because we took too long to come downstairs for our ride.
we once finished a Saturday night service around 11:30 p.m. We were in a remote area and in the middle of
a cane field. A pastor invited us to
sleep overnight at his house, which was a fifty minute drive away, so I could
preach at his morning service. First,
however, we took a shower, put on some new clothes and packed a few personal
items. It was 12:30 a.m. before we got
into his car. As we drove through the
cane fields, which were pitch-black, we drove past people walking in the dark
about five miles from the church we left.
They waved to us vigorously. “Who
are those people?” I asked the driver.
He said, “Oh, those are the people that were at our church service. They’re walking home now.” People walked ten miles to and back to attend
In the Philippines
years ago, we ministered in a fishing village and held three crusade meetings
during the evening. On the way down the
mountain to the seashore, we saw a snake on the winding dirt road, about six
feet long. It had been run over by
another vehicle. The last night, our
crusade meeting lasted until around 11 p.m. and God performed many healing
miracles. Many were converted. The next morning, we returned to Manila and were traveling
up the mountain with our car. We were
about six or seven miles up the road when we passed a group of young people
waving at us. One young man had a bright
orange T-shirt that I recognized from the night before. Our host pastor explained that these people
probably walked as far as they could the night before, slept on the side of the
road and then were continuing on. It was
In Davao City in Mindanao, Philippines, people would travel
after work for four hours to get to our seminars, sleep on the floor or on
chairs, wake up next morning and help prepare the place for our meeting, sleep
for the next two nights on the floor or on chairs, with infants. If you know the Philippines, most of the time the
weather is oppressively hot and muggy and most meeting places have corrugated
roofs that convert the meeting place into an oven. I have slept with the people at times (when I
was younger) and we would put the chairs facing each other to form a
“bed.” In many places in the Philippines,
the windows are just a large hole in the hollow-tile wall, with no screen or
any covering. Huge, flying cockroaches
would fly around the room like swarming termites on a hot day. I thought the Filipino people were used to
it, but they would be running around screaming and swatting the roaches too. Yet, these followers of Christ adored and
Folks, this is the normal Christian life that the apostles
talked about. Being radical is the
normal Christian walk. If you’re afraid
of and avoid persecution, torture, imprisonment and even death for the sake of
the kingdom of God, you’ll never please God. God has purposed that all of His sons and
daughters carry their own cross and follow Jesus. Ro. 8:29.
The body of Christ prays for great revival and harvest of souls. Nothing happens because revival comes with a
price. Revival refers to our
hearts. Jesus would rather we be either
hot or cold. If you’re hot for Jesus, He
doesn’t need to revive your heart. If
you’re lukewarm, He will spit you out of His mouth. If you are cold, God can revive your cold
heart; but first we must acknowledge that our hearts have become cold. Jesus didn’t ask us to just say a sinner’s
prayer. He wants all of you, your life
and your heart. Let us be radical