Victory Christian Fellowship is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary of ministry here in the Philippines with the theme “Radical Since 1984.” As I preached the first and third installments of the five-week preaching series here in Victory Tacloban, the theme really got me thinking. Why do we call it radical in the first place?
Following Jesus is radical because it goes against the expectations of the world. For the world, the road to fame and glory is by forging your way up; in Christianity, Jesus’ way to glory was by sacrificing and dying.
The world thinks this is radical, unusual, and crazy. The Bible teaches this is the way to live. And the idea of radicalism is displayed more prominently in the area of discipleship where Jesus taught his disciples that the way to follow him is by dying. Luke 9:23-26 minces no words about Jesus’ expectations of his disciples.
And he said to all, “ If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” I thought that was a bit of an overstatement until I read Nabeel Qureshi’s book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. In the account of his own conversion story, Qureshi’s next difficulty of embracing Christianity after he was convinced of its teachings was the fact that he was going to be cut off from the people closest to him. “I had to give up my life in order to receive His life. This was not some platitude or cliché. The gospel was calling me to die.”
How radical. How Christ-like.