I had a very interesting exchange several years ago–well, actually, the exchange was a bit weird, but from what I could make out from it, the person with which I was speaking got frustrated with me because he felt he could not get to know “the real me” because all I did was quote the Bible and talk about God and that, if this was going to be the case, he said, then we could not be friends.
I had a similar exchange recently: I met up with a former coworker, who happens to be a Hindu. She explained to me that Hinduism is all about having peace and harmony with one’s environment and that Hindus, basically, “go along to get along.” I explained to her that Christianity was not like this; it was not about compromise. God is to be everything and we are to put Him above everyone and everything. We are to give Him all or nothing, just as a husband would not expect his wife to love him half heartedly. My friend seemed disturbed by this; she said I reminded her of the dangerous radicals in India. She encouraged me to soften my stance.
I actually found these exchanges to be somewhat amusing; actually, I have experienced something similar on a few occasions…
The exchanges led me to ponder the questions, Is it possible to be too much in love with God? Is it possible to talk about God too much? Is there something wrong with a person if one cannot tell where God ends and the person begins? Is it possible to be too radical for Jesus?
When I was 14 years old, though I had first said the “Sinner’s Prayer” at age 5, I, with no outside prompting, began seeking Jesus again and chose to recommit myself to Him (I had grown up in a Christian home, but my parents went through some difficulties, eventually got divorced, and we all sort of drifted away from God for a few years). Not only did I recommit myself to Jesus, but I had an amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit and I fell totally, head-over-heels, radically in love with Jesus. I could not get enough of Him! I did not watch secular television, I did not listen to secular music–all I did was pray, read the Bible, and seek God.
Well, oddly enough, the first church my mom and I began going to around this time had youth pastors and do you know what they did? They actually discouraged this behavior! They said I was “out of balance.” I guess they felt it wasn’t normal for a teenager to sit around praying and reading the Bible all day. I pondered their opinions and do you know what I did? I started trying to become a “normal” teenager…
I hung out, I started watching secular television, listening to secular music (all of this combined with my Christian activities), etc. In retrospect, do I believe all this “normal” behavior had a positive effect on my relationship with God? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I think it simply made me carnal and dampened my fervor.
The same thing happened in my 20s: I wanted to be a “normal” young woman and college student so…I dated, had relationships, went to parties, did some other things I am too ashamed to mention…
Did all this “normal” behavior make me a better Christian or bring me closer to God? Absolutely not!
What I am saying is, the world’s way of thinking and the Bible’s or God’s way of thinking are polar opposites! And we need to weigh everything against the Word of God. Is it possible to be too radical for God? Is it possible to spend too much time seeking Him, studying His Word, and talking about Him? What does the Bible say about this? Let us see…
Joshua 1:8 reads, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
The Hebrew word for “depart” in this scripture means “be removed from,” so, in other words, the Word of God shall not be removed from our mouths. We are to speak it, but we are also to meditate on it day and night!
But let us go back further: In Deuteronomy 32:46-47, it reads, “Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it [is] not a vain thing for you; because it [is] your life.”
Did you catch that? It actually says that the Word of God is our life! One of the most beautiful things about the Bible is its cohesion, its interconnectedness. In the Old Testament, we see that the Word of God is our life and we see the exact same thing in the New Testament:
Colossians 3:4 reads, “When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
THE WORD OF GOD = OUR LIFE
JESUS = OUR LIFE
JESUS = THE WORD OF GOD (John 1:1)
THE WORD OF GOD/JESUS = OUR LIFE!
But it does not stop there:
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, made the bold declaration, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21, emphasis added).
Let us go back to Colossians and read Colossians 3:4 in its context:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4).
Jesus Himself seemed to demand “radical” behavior from His disciples:
If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple…For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?…whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26, 28, 33, emphasis added).
It probably goes without saying that “hateth” in this scripture is a comparison “hatred.” Obviously, we are not to literally “hate” our family members, but our love for Christ should be so great that love for everything else seems like hatred in comparison.
I could go on and on describing behavior in the Bible that the world would classify as “too radical” or “abnormal”:
1. Moses spent 40 days and nights straight, upon a mountain with God (Exodus 34:28).
2. When the children of Israel were experiencing a revival during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Bible reads “And they [the children of Israel] stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God [one] fourth part of the day; and [another] fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God” (Nehemiah 9:3).
Now, I do not know if they divided days into 24-hour periods the way that we do, but I would reckon that 1/4 part of the day to read the Law, then 1/4 part of the day to confess and worship would require more than merely a few minutes or even a couple of hours!
3. Job stated, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary [food]” (Job 23:12).
4. In Psalm 27:4, David said, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.”
I love this scripture! obviously, it is one of my all-time favorites! This scripture really helps to keep things in perspective for me. One thing should be our desire! One thing, one thing, one thing, one thing–not two, not three, not 20! Dwelling in God’s presence, more of Jesus–not success, fame, friends, approval, money, material possessions, etc.–should be the only thing we desire, and we only become agitated and discontented when we lose sight of this (see also Psalm 73:25-28).
God told Abraham that He was his “exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). He told the Levites that He was “their inheritance” (Deut. 18:1-2). The Psalmist calls God his portion (Psalm 73:26). God should be our one and only desire, our reward, our inheritance, our portion, our treasure!
5. Proverbs describes how passionately we should seek after wisdom; according to 1 Corinthians 1:24, Christ is the wisdom of God: We should seek Jesus as silver and search for Him as for hid treasures (Proverbs 2:4).
This scripture is similar to Psalm 42:1-2: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
Similarly, Psalm 63:1,3, 8 reads, “O God, thou [art] my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is…Because thy lovingkindness [is] better than life, my lips shall praise thee…My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (emphasis added)
6. Daniel kneeled before God and gave thanks to him three times a day (Daniel 6:10); the Psalmist did likewise (Psalm 55:17). In fact, so great was their devotion, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were willing to give their lives to honor God (Daniel 3, 6). Indeed, many actually gave their lives to honor God, including the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7).
I could go on and on; these were just a few scriptures off the top of my head describing behavior and a mindset that many would consider “radical.”
In terms of having friends and indulging in secular entertainment, I believe the Bible gives guidelines regarding these things: Psalm 101:3, Philippians 4:8, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 6:14. Every Christian needs to study the Word and use the Word to discern which friends and what entertainment are appropriate. I do believe that as one craves more of God, one’s desire for carnality and for the things of the world should begin to wane…
The point that I am making is, at least, according to the Bible’s standards, I question whether one can be too radical for God! I do not think we can ever get too much of God, go too deep in God, hold onto Him too tightly, or get too much of His Word. The world calls the Word/God “a crutch,” but the Bible says it/He is “our life”!
In fact, just based on the few scriptures and examples I have mentioned, I do not pray, seek God, or study His Word nearly enough! I do not think I have “forsaken all” to follow Him. I do not think my soul follows hard enough after Him or pants and thirsts for Him the way a thirsty person in the desert would pant for water. I do not think I seek Him the way I would seek $100 million dollars worth of rubies or hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:1-5). How about you?
I think what the world considers “normal,” God considers carnal. On the flip side, what the world considers “radical,” God considers normal, good, and holy.
The world considers “losing oneself in God” to be a bad thing. God does not!
We could embrace more carnality and less of God in order to be considered “normal” and to be accepted by the world, but will that really make us happy and give us the fulfillment we seek? That has not been my experience.
I have compromised my walk with God to satisfy the people in my life and when the chips were down and my life was falling apart, those same people were nowhere to be found! I am done compromising! We need to be all in, 110% for God!
Rest assured that this level of love, devotion for, and pursuit of God is not something most people will understand–unbelievers and even carnal Christians will not understand it! But remember that Noah was the only man considered righteous in his generation; of all the Israelites, Moses was the only one who spoke with God face to face like a man speaks with his friend; of all the Israelites that came out of Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb made it into the Promised Land; Elijah often felt alone in his devotion to God; only David was called a man after God’s own heart; of all the disciples, Jesus usually only took Peter, James, and John aside with Him for special revelations.
We need to be careful that we do not allow the world’s way of thinking to creep into our thinking. We need to renew our minds with the Word of God, renew our way of thinking, so that we start thinking the way God thinks.
So, the next time someone dismisses you as being too radical for Jesus, or for talking about Jesus too much, or for talking about the Bible too much, or calls you a “Jesus freak” or a “Bible thumper,” take it as a compliment!