I read last week where Rosie O’Donnell said that “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam.” I don’t know the context, but I might suppose that she said this more for its shock value than as a statement of belief. We shouldn’t be surprised by a remark like this from the loony fringe of the left.
But maybe she’s sincere. If so, she may be on to something. Maybe radical Christianity is threatening. Certainly radical Islam should be no great cause for fear. Didn’t Jesus say, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28)?
I looked up “radical” in my Webster’s and among a number of definitions, I found these: ”3. a) marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional; EXTREME; b) tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions.” This sounds like a pretty good description of the type of Christianity that its founder Jesus taught. Look at His sermon as recorded in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.
He made radical statements like the following:
-- “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matthew 5:11).
-- “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
-- “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
He gave radical commands:
-- “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42).
-- “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
-- “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19).
-- “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1).
Read the whole sermon!
This is radical stuff! It fits Webster’s definition. And it IS threatening. It shakes up our views of the good life, of “the American way,” even of what we may believe is the moral life. And, sad to say, it is practiced by very few of us who profess to be followers of Jesus.
Uni and I pray daily for the persecuted church in the 10/40 window (check out win1040.com). We’ve been doing this for a number of years. In many of these countries Christianity is illegal, followers of Christ are persecuted and even put to death. We pray for the leaders of these countries as we’re commanded to in 1 Timothy 2:1, 2. I have often wondered why Christians seem to be hated by so many people. What is it that causes political leaders, religious and irreligious, to hate Christians so? Christians are usually good citizens, moral people. One would think that kings and presidents would encourage the growth of Christianity rather than hate or fear it. It’s no threat to them, is it?
Well, maybe it is. And just because it is radically different. Jesus told His disciples, “… The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant” (Luke 22:25, 26). Jesus’ teaching turns the world’s power-oriented philosophy on its head. And the world hates it. What would we expect? They hated Jesus.
So Rosie, you’re almost right. Radical Christianity is MORE threatening than radical Islam.
But Rosie, you don’t have to fear! Jesus died for you!