A few years ago I read a book by David Platt titled, Radical. For those who haven’t read it there is a call to take part in something Platt calls the Radical Experiment. It consists of the following components:
- Pray for the entire world;
- Read through the entire Word;
- Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose;
- Spend your time in another context;
- Commit your life to a multiplying community (Platt 2010, 183).
I tried to apply most of the components of the experiment in my life and did so with excitement. I soaked up the message and realized the importance of the call to live radically for God and for others. I subscribed to the email posts by Operation World as Platt mentions in his final chapter in order to pray for the world (Platt 2010, 189). It lead me to seek out organizations like Voice of the Martyrs where I have a calendar on my desk that has a prayer for a specific people group and or fellow Christians throughout the world each day. I am thankful for how God has used Radical in my life to wake me from my realization that modern American Christianity and my perpetuation of its continuance was wrong.
However, I came to learn very quickly that it is easy for me to fail when it comes to following the challenge to live radically for Jesus. I also learned that I will continue to fail often in trying to hold true to this challenge loyally every day. I mean I can fake it outwardly and make people think that I am doing it well. But if my motive in doing so is so that others will think highly of me rather than highly of God, does it not render my efforts as being misguided or even sinful? If my motive to live radically is so that others or even just myself would see/reflect on the perception of me living radically for God, wouldn’t that be a pursuit to feed my own pride? If I thought that it would result in making me feel better about myself so that my self-pride could be fed, just like my flesh desires for it to be, would that not be wrong?
Even if that was my motive, I did not get very far. It was quick to wear me out, leaving me feeling exhausted, wore out, feeling like I had failed God, that He was disappointed in me and that I was willing and understanding to accept whatever punishment or pause on any blessings that He had for me if I had simply remained faithful to Him and to the Radical Experiment. I tried to do it on my own and it left me feeling hopeless and burned out.
That is where I went about it all wrong. I tried. I tried when I was supposed to “die.” Die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). Deny myself, take up my cross and follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). I tried to do it without resting in the grace and finished work of Jesus (Hebrews 4:1-4).
Because I am in Christ, because I have been covered by God’s grace and the righteousness of Christ; all of my mistakes, failures, sin, misguided attempts at righteous acts with sinful motives have already been consumed and atoned for on the cross by Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus meant it when He said “it is finished (John 19:30).” I am free to live dangerously following Christ. Because I am a child of God “there is therefore now no condemnation for” me (Romans 8:1). When the devil reminds me of who I am without Christ while I am falling and failing miserably making my sad attempt to live the Radical life, I now remind Him of who I am in Christ while resting on Christ who actually did live the Radical life. My joy no longer hinges on how well or how awful I am doing but hinges on how well Jesus lived His life for me so that it may be imputed and blanketed over me.
Joy that is grounded in what Jesus did cannot be shaken because Jesus lived out life perfectly. It is the life of Jesus that pleases God. It is Jesus only who was able to fulfill the law and fulfill all righteousness. This was the plan all along. Jesus did this so that the Father might be glorified when out of His love, mercy and grace He offers us this gift of Jesus’ fulfillment of God’s law and fulfillment of all righteousness to us for us to wear like a robe. Not because we deserve it, but because we don’t deserve it, realize we don’t deserve it and are given the desire by God to ask for it which then leads to it being given to us freely, lovingly, mercifully and gracefully from God.
AND it pleases Him to lavishly coat us in it (check out Ephesians 1 and Luke 12:32).
Do I desire to live radically for Jesus? Yes of course. Do I always faithfully live radically for Jesus? No, I fail often. I do not look to fail or like it when I do, but I do. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25)!” My joy is in knowing that God knows and knew that I would fall and yet while I was still a sinner Jesus died for me (Romans 5:8).” I now can live the Radical life without fear and without hesitancy because I take comfort in knowing that Jesus has already lived the Radical life for me.
There is no fear.
There is no anxiety.
There is no burden.
There is no guilt.
There is no shame.
There is no “me.”
There is no “self.”
There is no longer “I.”
There is now no condemnation for me when I desire to please God now because Jesus has done that for me already and has given it to me as a gift of God’s grace. I have traded the heavy impossible yoke that I was carrying for the yoke of Jesus (Matthew 11:29-30). The reality that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me, has literally changed everything (Galatians 2:20). Everything.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:10-14, ESV
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Romans 1:16-17, ESV
Platt, David. 2010. Radical. Colorado Springs: Multnomah.