Editors Note: The following sermon was preached on 3/22 at the Vineyard Church of DuPage.
Question: How would you define the term: Radical? If I was to describe someone by saying they are “a radical” what would that mean to you?
Dictionary.com defines radical as:
— a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; extremist.
— a person who advocates fundamental political, economic, and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.
One poster to wikipedia has stated that “the term radical originally meant to go to the root of a (social) problem.”
Since the term can be used as an adjective, one might also ask what it would mean to have “a radical faith.”
Question: How define last week?
“faith is believing and acting on God’s Word”
equation – Faith = Belief + Action Supernatural Result
Dave stated… “Signs follow those who believe”
Don’t know if intentional but reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the 8th century English story “Beowulf.” — “Fortune Favors the Brave.”
I have always felt that this quote much maligned by some stated a central premise of the Christian life.. I think about the charismatic stories I have grown up reading and hearing about: John Wimber, Derek Morphew, John G. Lake, Smith Wigglesworth, Kathleen Kulhman, Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, the list goes on. Each of these men and women have had the courage to be fools both in the eyes of the world, and unfortunately many times in the eyes of the church.
One of my favorite stories about radical faith: Columba.
Transition: I don’t know about you, but the little boy in me would like to think I would that kind of faith, the faith to face down evil. Yet while many of us may never come face-to-face with armed intimidation, I am convinced that all of us face monsters in our own lives, and we wonder what does it mean and how can we go about facing down these giants. Like many of you I simply long to believe that there is a purpose to my life and that I have my own giants to slay. Yet I wake up each morning in my small apartment and go about what often seems to me to all these small, minor, insignificant tasks. And I wonder of maybe I missing the point?
It has been in these times of questions and doubts that I have hit upon my own definition of faith and established the following slogan to live by: “A radical faith seeks and finds God.”
Their have been many that have liked to talk about the hiddenness of God and described the Christian life as an elaborate game of “hide and seek.” I do not know about you but something about God hiding himself has never sit right with me. In my life I have found that when it looks bleak and God appears to have disappeared. It is not God that is hiding, but me who is running. This has been our condition since the Garden, God comes and we hide ourselves. I often think of God walking through the house saying, “Matt where are you?” While I am hiding in the corner going ‘Lalalalalal…. I’m not listening.”
And that is what faith means, it means turning from my corner, looking for God, and saying I am right here. To me a radical faith means seeking and finding God. So if the problem is not with God but with us what does it mean to come out of our closets and seek to find God? I think one of the truly magnificient examples of a man who sought and found God was the person of Moses. I would like us to look at a story from Moses’ life and seek to find what it means to seek and find God.
Read Text: Exodus 3:1-15
1) A Radical faith Seeks and Finds God in the Journey of His People.
I think we see Moses’ desperation to meet God:
1) Mount Horeb was a dry, dusty mountain with few places to take your flock.
2) It was a two day journey from his camp (something a good shepherd would rarely do.
However. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that few shepherds would go near this mountain because of its reputation as a place where one could (and would) meet God. Locals were scared of the mountain and stayed away. Yet Moses undertook the journey. I think he did so not for his flock, but because he was tired of sitting around doing nothing, and was determined to find out his place in life (or die trying)
n Transition: Have you ever been at such a place of desperation.
n I have: 1995 Catch the Fire Conference
2) A Radical Faith Seeks and Finds God in the Revelation of His Presence
a) Moses Turned Aside. So Moses sees this sight and turns to look at it. The phrase “turn aside” literally means to “depart from a way, to put aside, leave undone in order to inspect, consider, learn about, observe, give attention to something.” In a moment Moses forgot about being a shepherd, and watching his sheep in order to investigate this strange phenonmen, or vision which God has put in his path. In the moment that Moses turns away from his flock, God is pleased to speak. One is given the impression that had Moses said, “oh that is nice, and gone back to his flock, God would not have revealed himself to Moses.”
Transition: Have you ever turned away from something, and later wondered or wished you had not.
b) God Came Down. Immediately after Moses takes off his shoes, God begins his message. He tells Moses that he has seen the suffering of his people, and given heed to their cries for freedom from oppression. The wording gives us the impression that this suffering is not just some fact appreciated by God. Instead, God knows by experience the suffering of his people. God’s knowledge is not cold or academic, it is pratical He is the God who has felt the sting of the whip on his back, and knows the despair of being punished for not achieving an impossible mission. He has felt the weight of the Egyptians’ hatred, and knows the pain of death under such impossible burdens.
Furthermore He is not just aware of this suffering; he has listened to the cries of his people and given heed to their desires. To give heed means not listen to listen, or hear a person, but to obey the request spoken. God tells us He has chosen to grant the desires of His people. He knows our pain, has heard our cries, and is in the process of coming down to do something about our cries.
One of my favorite passages is found in Isaiah in which the prophet is discussing the perilous exile of Isreal and describing the coming servant-king who will bring freedom. In the midst of this discussion he says:
“6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
God is there and waiting to bless his people. He is literally the God who comes down to walk amongst His people. He is the God who longs to be found.
Transition: Bruce Feiler’s Story of Visiting Sinai
Think about what we talked about for the recent weeks. We have talked about how the life of God is a new lifestyle, a lifestyle in which the prophetic, the miraculous, the amazing becomes, well, common place. We are called to be people who deal in the supernatural. We are called to be people for whom the supernatural is, well, natural. The gifts of God, and the experience of his presence in the Spirit is to be our calling card.
In this sense the life of the Christian is not so much one of hide and seek, but more a game of peekabo. God hasn’t moved from our presence, we have simply placed our hands in front of face, and when we pull them back we can be assured that He will be there to say, ‘Peek-a-boo, I see you.’
So What are we to do? How do we see God in our world? The Archbishop NT Wright suggests the following list of things to do while waiting on God:
1) Pray. Rom. 5:17, 12:1-2. Rev. 5:10.
2) Practice personal holiness. Rom. 8:12-17. Col. 3: 1-11.
3) Seek the welfare of your city. Mk 10:35-45. Jer. 29:7.
4) Look for ways to bring restoration and justice to your nation. Micah 6:8.
5) Work for peace and love to be established in your world. Rom. 13
This is what we should mean by having radical faith. It means pulling our hands from our faces, observing where He is now, rolling up our sleeves, and getting about the Father’s business.
It may mean taking the person from the office whom no one likes out to lunch, and encouraging them. It may mean living a lifestyle of purity in a sex-soaked world. It may mean showing up early on a Saturday morning to go out and to show and tell people about God’s love. It may mean asking God for a word for my suitemate, or my officemate. It may mean offering to pray for the girl at the check-out counter who is sniffling. It may mean taking the time to pry into the life of a friend who says they have been having a bad day.
I may not now or ever have the chance to face down armed guards, but this I know the giants I do face are more than enough challenge for now. Who knows that I may one day face Goliath and be able to say, this isn’t so bad because I have faced other beasts before, and God gave me victory then, and He will again.