How Ephesians Killed My Radical Christianity

The Christian life is not about going someplace for Jesus or doing great things for him. It is being holy right where we are

We don’t like Paul’s call to be radical because it is a lot easier to love the lost whom we haven’t seen than our wife who we see every day. We don’t like it because forgiveness is hard (4:32) and fornication is easy (5:3). We don’t like it because we would rather be known for doing something amazing than be obscure and keep the peace (4:3).  We don’t like it because he says a lot about submission and nothing about evangelizing the ladies at Starbucks. In the end, those calls to be radical aren’t radical at all. They are just a distraction.

 

Note: This has nothing to do with David Platt’s book Radical. I have never read it or to my knowledge read anything else he has written.

What is a Radical? 

Definitions matter. So before proceeding I wanted to define the term “radical.”  By “radical,” I mean that strain of Christian thinking that says living a normal Christian life, getting married, having children, raising them in Christ, loving your spouse, being faithful at your job, attending worship, reading your Bible, praying, loving the saints, and then dying is not enough.  It is that strain of Christianity that says, “There must be something more that I must do to be a good Christian.”  The radical thinks and preaches that, “Good Christians do amazing things for Jesus.” This type of thinking is found in all branches of Christianity. There are mission weeks, revival meetings, monks who abandon all, elusive second blessings, pilgrimages to Rome, women who leave marriage and children far behind, men who leave jobs to enter the ministry, young men who believe that memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism is a means of grace, preachers who imply that Word and Sacraments are not enough, and conference speakers who demand that we pray more and more. The halls of faith echo with phrases like: Be radical. Give it all up for Jesus. Sacrifice everything.

I was raised to think like this and my guess is that many of you were as well. Our Christian life was driven by questions like, “Am I doing enough?”  But over time I found that this pressure to do great things for God was not just burdensome, but it was unbiblical. The epiphany came as I studied Ephesians a few years back.

Radical Indeed

The first chapters of Ephesians are some of the most glorious chapters in all the New Testament. All Scripture is inspired by God, but maybe Ephesians is blessed with a double portion. Here are a few of the verses about our great salvation.

We are blessed with every spiritual blessing (1:3).
We are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world (1:4).
We have redemption through his blood (1:7).
We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (1:13).
We were dead. Now we are alive (2:1).
We have been raise up with Christ and seated with Him (2:6).
We were once strangers to the covenant, but now have been brought near (2:12-13).
We have access through Christ by the Spirit to the Father (2:18).

And on and on and on it goes. (See especially 3:17-21.) Paul gives us a grand picture of the great redemption we have in Christ and the great work our Lord did for us. Chapters 1-3 of Ephesians are Paul’s unfolding of this mystery (3:9) to the saints at Ephesus.  In chapter 4, Paul begins to explain to the saints what this mean for their daily lives.  Ephesians is neatly divided between what God has done for us in Christ (1-3) and how we are to respond (4-6).  Or to use other terms it is divided between the indicative and imperative.

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