I would love to be a fly on the wall as you answer this question.
Many of you will likely say that you aren’t radical at all and view that word with a negative perspective. It might sound like shouting out your opinions and beliefs, always going against the grain, joining a protest movement, being rude and more. Perhaps some of you would admit you are or at least you were “back in the day.”
I would be one of those in the first group for most all of my life. I tend to follow the prescribed rules, obey the traffic laws, adhere to the societal norms, and don’t step over too many lines except for a couple of speeding tickets over the course of my lifetime.
Recently as I was reading a book by Matthew Kelly I started to reconsider if that was true of me. I also started to realize I was more radical than I might have thought and really wanted to be that way. I just never used that word to describe myself.
Oftentimes those who know me would tell you I am passionate about what I believe and those whom I hold dear. They might say I can be direct as well among a list of characteristics observed by them, but never the word radical.
Matthew Kelly writes this about the meaning of the word, radical:
“What does radical mean? It means to get to the “root” of things.”
Hmmmmmmm! That is true of me and I am guessing it might be true of some of you who would never see yourself as radical.
Kelly’s thesis suggests that if we are disciples of Christ and look like Him that we would be radical.
“Jesus was a radical – and his life and teachings are a radical invitation to something beyond what most of us have settled for in our everyday lives.
Jesus was interested in getting deep down to the root of things. He was interested in what was essential – not the fluffy periphery, but the core, the center, the heart of things.”
Consider just a few examples of the questions Jesus asked when He walked the earth:
“Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13-20)
“Do you believe?” (Matthew 21:22)
“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-15)
“Why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26)
“Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:26)
“Do you still not see or understand?” (Mark 8:17)
“Are you also going to leave?” (John 6:66-67)
“What does scripture say?” (Luke 10:23-28)
“Who touched me?” (Mark 5:33)
“Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17)
Those questions are not the usual “small talk” questions we ask or are asked, are they? Reading them nudges me to own that even though I am somewhat radical, I am not nearly radical enough. Jesus cut to the chase without shouting or condemning someone who knew less than He did or believed something different or even nothing at all.
Jesus came to love – YES! But He also came to show us truth and be truth that we could see, hear, touch, and know. Matthew Kelly says it plainly, “Truth is radical.”
Maybe that is part of the problem each of us faces.
Do we hold to the truth in its deepest form in every situation even when it means being less diplomatic than most of us have been trained or learned to be? Do we always share the truth when we are asked something in a casual conversation whether that be if we like a person’s new haircut or where we stand on a moral or political question or does our fear or desire to be liked cause us to stretch things a bit or ignore the question entirely?
A closer look at the life of Christ shows most all of us that He is in every way different from man despite coming to earth as man.
“Jesus didn’t have a casual relationship with the truth, and that is radical. He was interested in getting to the root of things. Through this lens of truth Jesus places everything in its proper place, bringing order to every aspect of life, and demonstrates the true value of things. We all yearn for this divine ordering. The challenge is to surrender and allow God to put our lives in order. The fruit of this surrender is the peace and joy that we all desire.”
Matthew Kelly in Rediscover Jesus
How might we and those around us be different if we really became more like Jesus?
Would our conversations focus on the small questions such as “how are you”, “what have you been up to”, or “what’s new”? And would our answers be small as well using words like “I’m fine”, “not much of anything” and the like?
If that is where we stay, our relationships will remain casual at best and we will never really have the opportunity to know deep relationship born out of the radical love, grace, mercy, and truth that Jesus modeled for us.
Let me leave you with a question Matthew Kelly asked for us to ponder:
“When was the last time you had the courage to seek out the root of an important issue?”