Thoughts From "The Radicals"
Some thoughts shared after watching a video called “The Radicals.” One of the main characters was named Wilhelm. Although he claimed to be someone who really wanted to follow Jesus, he recanted everything when things became too difficult for him and when the costs became too high.
In some ways, I am kind of glad that Wilhelm recanted. It makes a statement. Throughout the video, he had such passion. He was eloquent and persuasive about his beliefs, but obviously there was something at stake in his heart! There was something faulty in the foundation he was building on. This movie proves a point: it is pretty easy to come up with something you can believe in and hunger for on an external basis. Throughout time there have been many examples of people who have decided to believe in something, and were even willing to risk for it - Nazi, Germany, the Children’s Crusades, Muslims, Communists, the Japanese Kamikaze. Every generation has had something that they were willing to risk for. When group dynamics and animal instincts are fanned into a frenzy, they can produce all sorts of interesting and “courageous” things.
But somewhere along the line for God’s people, the wheat and the chaff in our own hearts have to be separated. We have to get to the place where we make our decisions based on the word of God and the testimony of the Spirit of God. We have to learn to walk this way regardless of what the physical eyes see and the physical ears hear, and what the carnal mind is able to comprehend. We live someplace way beyond the externals, in the spiritual realm, as Jesus did. We live seated with Christ in the Heavenly realms and keep in step with the Spirit with an anointing on us that is real and not counterfeit, allowing us to discern all things. We are born of the Spirit and are like the wind. To live in God’s world, in the unseen world, is ultimately what it has to be about.
We can look fairly spiritual and fairly convincing and pretty dedicated in certain circumstances, but satan knows those places in our hearts that we have cherished, those secret sins that no one else has noticed or that you have never “fessed up” to. God knows those places of weakness. He knows those areas that you or I may have coddled and protected rather than crucified. Those are ultimately the things that will come back up in our face at some time or another. BUT, if you ask God to show you what areas you have coddled and protected and buried, and what areas you have put on the back burner in your heart and have refused to deal with, then God will show you. Jesus, the Master Teacher, wants you to be laid bare so that you can draw on Him. He wants you, like His Son, to be crucified in weakness that you might walk in resurrection power! That is God’s will for your life and mine. This applies to every one of us because He is no respecter of persons. There is not a single person, whether you have been a Christian less than a week or more than a decade, that God does not want to walk in resurrection power with Holy Ghost discernment and a burning fire in your heart without fear of physical death. That was one of the two curses that Jesus of Nazareth broke. He broke the power of sin and the power of death. We can’t be threatened by fear of death. “Where is your victory? Where is your sting? You have no hold on us anymore! We have been released from the power of the fear of death,” the Hebrews writer said.
In this video, Wilhelm had something hidden in his heart that he cherished. There was something in his heart and life that meant more to him than Jesus of Nazareth. We don’t want to give Wilhelm a bad name just based on a Hollywood production, but the point is that satan finds your Achilles heel, if you allow there to be one. That’s why Jesus said, “I have counted the cost for you.” Just like a man who builds a tower has to count the cost rather than build it halfway and then be embarrassed later on. Jesus has counted the cost for you. If you want to make it, Jesus said, “Unless you forsake all, you can’t follow me.” (Luke 14:33) It’s a little difficult to discern what that means and how to apply that in our American lifestyles because it’s not a matter of the externals! At some point, you have to find yourself very, very alone with God and very devoted to uprooting everything in your life that isn’t like Jesus of Nazareth. I am not talking about external “stuff.” I am talking about the things in your heart, the things that motivate you, and the things that consume your mind. I am talking about your emotions, the fears that you justify and allow to dwell inside, the selfishness that you justify and allow to remain, the pride or the envy of others, or the idolatry of spouse or children or anything else!
Those things that you allow to stay in your heart will cause you to recant things that you once counted precious. There will be things that you reject that at one time you had been convinced about and willing to risk for. God said that everything will be revealed by fire (1 Cor. 3). There will be a fire judgment. It will either happen in this lifetime or it will happen at the judgment seat of Christ. What you have been building with, whether wood, hay, and stubble, or gold, silver, and precious stones will be revealed for what it is.
Take the Time - MAKE the Time
But, just by way of encouragement, I don’t feel overly traumatized by the video where we saw one person recant and another person die because of his beliefs. Maybe some were more emotionally affected, and that’s okay. But for me, it is very much a reminder that the things that we sell out to, whether exposed in this life or on judgment day, and our ultimate destiny in God’s sight and man’s, depends a lot on what we are willing to do with those things in the hidden places of our lives. You will never even know what those hidden things are in your life if you don’t take the time to humble yourself before God and ask Him. Expose yourself before God. If you are going to be lazy about asking and busy yourself with everything else under the sun, you will deceive yourself. You will deceive yourself with your busyness and lack of time before Him. There will be an empty place somewhere in you that you know is there, but you never have time to do anything about. Perhaps you are just too busy doing “God’s work” or pursuing your own career. Or you are too busy entertaining yourself, or building up your own lusts or your own selfish pursuits, and grappling after the things of this world for your house or for your children or some other “thing.” If you won’t take the time - and there is always a “good” reason for not taking the time to seek God’s face - to let Him expose your heart and to seek change, then you will end up being motivated by externals. If you are not going to seek that place of exposure before Him (and like Job, worship Him though He slay you with His word), if you won’t take that time and make that room, then you will never have any Real convictions at all, and you will end up just trying to “do the right thing.” Your life has to go into the very heart of God and the person of Jesus. It cannot be based on stuff.
You have to make the time for Him. He is a Person. He’s not a concept. He’s not an idea. He’s not a movement. He’s a Person, and all of this is about knowing, as a friend, the Person who walked on water! It’s to see Him as a friend and to relate to Him as a friend and to share your heart with Him as a friend. It’s to receive your guidance, your instruction, your rebuke, and your equipping from Him as a friend and as One who is worth following. As odd and radical as He was, He proved Himself again and again. We are sitting here as a bunch of strange social anomalies, but if you are not an anomaly in this world, then you are an American socialite Christian, and that misses the mark. It won’t do the work. It’s not supernatural. It’s of this world. YOUR LIFE is meant to be birthed in the Most Holy Place on your face before God with convictions that run through you because you have heard the Man who walks on water. You have heard His voice and you hunger for His voice and you live for nothing but His voice and His face. If that is not where you are, then get there!
And you can. You can. He is no respecter of persons. Every person IN Jesus has every good and perfect gift. Every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus is available for the asking. You were born for that. Ask, and you shall receive. Get out of your futile thinking, your busyness, the legalistic junk in your head, your selfish judgments of others, and your foolish fears. Get out of that stuff, and extend your arms to God and to your brothers and sisters and to the world around you and get a life that is truly Life. Quit fooling around, if you are, and make some decisions. Otherwise, you’ll never break the barrier! I have a list of a half dozen things in my pocket from the last thirty days - some hard decisions about what I have to do, direction I need to take in my life, and areas that I need to repent of and get my head on straight about. That list is from God! And because I know it is from God, and because I have faced Him on each thing, I have courage. I have the courage to know that if He convicts me, He will change me. My job is to pursue Him with all my heart in those areas and beg Him to help me and change me, and to make me like Himself by His Spirit and whatever else it takes to bring me into that place.
The enemy’s Intent
God forbid that we ever be persecuted and die for a “movement” or “concept” or an “idea.” If what you are living for is not from the heart of the man Jesus of Nazareth, then it doesn’t mean anything at all. I have come to understand something about this thing called “persecution.” Again, I’m not much on the “suffering syndrome” or the “martyr syndrome.” I don’t think there is any need for that. God certainly will sovereignly direct His purposes. Generations have passed and civilizations have come and gone when there wasn’t a tremendous amount of persecution, and we are certainly not encountering anything to speak of now. There is nothing really happening that is sooooo bad. It’s not frightening or sobering for me, it’s just basically instructional: evil exists for one purpose - to destroy God and His purposes. It is very evident that evil does exist, and that it is everywhere! “A wicked and perverted generation,” is the way Peter described it, and it has only gotten ten thousand times worse since then. What is ten thousand times worse than wicked and perverted? That’s where we are right now, and the hatred and the violence and the perversion and all of the darkness and the murderous stuff that exists today all over the world, all of it, exists for just one reason, and that is to destroy God and His purposes. Satan is a roaring lion seeking someone whom he can devour. He’s the enemy, the dragon. Throughout the scriptures, as God has opened the scrolls and there was revelation, it is very, very clear that the demonic influences - all the hatred, wickedness, and evilness - of this age exist for the purpose of destroying Jesus, the testimony of Jesus, and the offspring of Jesus birthed by His same Spirit, the Spirit of the Lamb.
SO, we are going to have to face the fact that as we sit here in this nice, innocent environment, and we watch videos and sing songs and the weeks and months roll by, that there is this whole other thing happening in this world. Every shred of darkness, every ounce of evil and murderous hatred and intent that exists on this planet exists for one purpose, and that is to level itself at you, if you are a follower of Jesus. That’s why it exists. You can walk down the street right now and the odds are fairly low that anything bad will happen to you. Is there wickedness, hatred, evil, rebellion, and disobedience in this city? Yes, there is. Well, the reason you can walk through the city and probably have nothing happen to you is because satan doesn’t know what he is doing yet. His children beat themselves up. They rip each other off, burn each other’s houses down, and shoot at each other. Satan isn’t always going to be that foolish and unprepared as the chaos of darkness grows into a network and a family and a fellowship of darkness. It is not going to always be just a statistical probability as to whether or not you are going to suffer some violence. All of the evil and darkness that exists on this planet, PERIOD, in the history of mankind only exists for one reason, and that is to crush those who walk by the Spirit of Christ - to crush the head of those that would follow after Jesus and walk by His Light and in His Spirit. That’s why evil exists. It’s not just a random thing out there. It is for the purpose of destroying the woman and her offspring. Therefore, it is imperative that we grow in an understanding and recognition of why darkness exists on this planet. And more than that, we must be motivated, prepared, and enlightened as to what is happening in the world so that we can learn how to walk by the divine energy of Jesus that allowed Him to overcome the world.
The Father’s Intent
“This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” God’s intention is that you would have the ability to walk with Christ’s empowerment and His life and His liberty and His love and His peace! He was always risking, even to the point of death, for the sake of His Father’s Word and Will and Heart. Jesus walked right through the crowd and faced the worse that man could offer with total peace in His heart, without His heart palpitating and His blood pressure going to extremes over what was being inflicted upon Him. He walked right through that with the peace of God, seeing the heart of God, hearing the voice of God, speaking the word of God continually with energy and with passion, as a revolutionary, but never with his own self-interest in mind. These are the good things that God has intended for you, and what He is preparing you for. He is preparing a table for you to eat from and to enjoy in the midst of your enemies.
The time is coming and now is, when our own relationship with Jesus of Nazareth as a person is not to be taken for granted. You have to take the time; you have to purposefully pursue Him and glory in Christ Jesus. Glory in Christ Jesus. Not glory in a worship time, but glory in Christ Jesus! This is a 24 hour-a-day thing and it affects every area of your life - every perspective, every decision that you make, every place you go, everything you allow your eyes to rest on, every attitude you allow to dwell in your heart and your mind. Whether food or drink, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks in all circumstances.
Soften Your Heart! Make Changes!
If you allow something other than “giving thanks in all circumstances,” satan will see that weakness in your heart, that unbelief and rebellion in your heart, and he will exploit it and drive you to discouragement. He will plant bad seeds in you and allow you to be leaven in other peoples’ lives. He will exploit your weakness in ever-increasing measure. If you are a complainer or whiner, if you are lazy, if you are self-centered, if you carry a chip on your shoulder, if you are easily offended or embittered, if you nurture and coddle relationship problems or judgments of others, then satan will exploit those areas in you. You must choose to be open and free, soft in heart and simple rather than complex. You must choose to quickly relent, and quickly soften your heart, and quickly turn with a smile on your face as you see that something is out of line in your own heart. If you don’t, then satan will exploit that. You might think it’s okay to be legalistic or to carry a judgment or to carry an attitude because, “After all, I have the right.” You may make a lot of allowances for yourself because, “After all, my circumstances are different than everybody else’s, and you don’t understand...” If you allow that sort of thought process in your heart and life, and if you think you are the exception and you lower Jesus’ standard for your character and life, then you will be very, very sorry. “Well, after all, I’m just a new Christian.” You must not allow any of that in your heart, your life, your household, your mate, your children, or your Family. If you tolerate it or overlook it, and choose to turn your head the other way, you are no better than Cain, who betrayed his brother unto death.
God has poured out so much of His Goodness to us! We must use this time wisely. So many times I find some hardness in my heart or some sin that I have somehow let creep in and I’ve not crushed it to dust. I’ve let it hang there not giving it enough thought to even be convicted by it. And then I see it, and there is a rejoicing that comes into my heart that says, “God, I thank You that You gave me the chance in this time of peace and freedom to face You and to offer my repentance to You as a gift, rather than you having to crush it out of me.” It is a much more fragrant offering to God to offer those things, rather than to have them beat out of us later on or to be tested to the brink at some later point in time. If you won’t soften your heart at a time of His mercy and His kindness, what guarantee is there that we will soften our hearts at a time of persecution and confusion and loud noises or chaos?
In the time of His mercy, in the time of His tender voice, let’s take advantage of the opportunity and decide to make changes. Not just be instructed in certain ways, but decide to make Real changes in your life, in your heart, and in your attitude. Resolve to make changes to “not be that way anymore.” That kind of thing is so good and pleasant in the sight of God. Decide to change, not just to gradually turn the corner, but to lay it down at the foot of the cross and to say, “I don’t want to be that way anymore,” and to do that with your brothers and sisters, your roommates, whoever happens to be near you. It’s a good opportunity. I think that video shows what happens if you don’t resolve to make Real changes. Those that build on the rock of putting into practice His word rather than just acknowledging, “yep, that was true.... and, yep, that is true. I don’t know about THAT, but...” That’s building on sand. Acknowledging truth and obeying truth are two totally different things. Doing something about it is building on the rock. Acknowledging and thinking about it, singing about it, and praying about it is NOT building on the rock, and when the storms come, the house will fall.
I don’t mean earning your salvation. I am talking about gifts we are offering to Jesus as people bought by the blood of the Lamb. On His righteousness alone we stand before the throne. However, every man should be careful how he builds, Paul said. Some who build with wood, hay, and stubble, escape through the flames with their work burnt up. Others build with gold, silver, and precious stones to the glory of God, and God finds an inheritance and a gift in them. That’s what we are about; offering Jesus what He has waited so long for and found only rarely. And here we sit with a prime opportunity, as every man always has, to offer Him the glorious gifts of our hearts, our lives, and our families with a sacrifice of praise extending our hands to the helpless and offering gifts of righteousness and peace and humility. James talked in James 3 about a wisdom from below and a wisdom from above, and part of the description of wisdom from above is a humility that comes from wisdom. Humility that comes from wisdom. See if you can figure out how those two ideas are connected. Ask God about that. He will show you. Humility that comes from wisdom. Pursue that with God. And look at it from the other side, too - what would a lack of humility be worth in God’s sight?
Father, we ask together that You, as You build Your house, would demonstrate to us in Your Spirit and in the Person of Your Son, what humility born of wisdom is about, what it means, and how to practically apply it. Holy Father, we want to build Your House with You, on the rock of putting into practice God’s Word, not just mouthing the words or acknowledging the thoughts or letting them drift through our heads. We know this is all real. The day is coming when every word that proceeds from Your mouth is either going to be nourishment that makes us stronger and builds us and allows our stature to grow and change and our fruitfulness to increase; or they will be words to which we will all be more and more accountable. God forbid that we face You without being doers of Your Word and just hearers instead. And Jesus, we know that wise men offer You gifts, and we want to be like those wise men around the stable of Your humble birth, even humiliating birth, and your humiliating, humble life. You had a power and a wisdom - a dynamite that staggers our imagination. We want to offer You the gift of our lives, and we don’t want to play any games with that. There are so many opportunities to live in a poetic dream world. Father, we pray that You burst that bubble, and show each of us what it means to really live in You. God grant us that. Please blow away even these words, and show us who You are. Show us how to live like You. We know that it is only by Your Spirit that that could happen. Holy Spirit, we ask You and we beg You, for the sake of the testimony of the Son of God, that You would make us into real people. Amen.