Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ordinary Radical

I get a lot of questions about what “ordinary radical” means. Shane Claiborne, of The Simple Way, initially coined the term (at least as far as I know) in his groundbreaking book, “Irresistible Revolution”. Now there are many “ordinary radicals” who resonate with Claiborne that use this label. I was fortunate enough to catch the term before Claiborne’s popularity soared and secured a blog site with the name. Judging by the traffic I get on this site, it has more to do with my blog name than my content! Ha! So when I think about what “ordinary radical” means for me, I conclude that it simply means living out a ‘radical’ life devoted to Jesus and His paths in an ‘ordinary’ way. There is nothing special about me or what I am doing so I am very ordinary. I am radical insomuch as I radically look at unique (yet ancient) ways to push forth the Kingdom of God. I'm ordinarily radical.

You may recall in a previous post my story of the path to “nonviolence”. I guess you can say that was the tipping point into this subversive, ordinary radical life calling as well. God illuminated my heart with an understanding of the Sermon on the Mount, and subsequent study of the life of St. Francis of Assisi, that up to that point I viewed as inconceivable, unrealistic, and too hard to follow. Though I still feel these ways often as I look around at aworld overwhelmingly torn by non-Christ-like elements, I now firmly believe that God’s Kingdom as described by Jesus is one that can be pushed forth by His willing jars of clay. But we have to be willing to die to Americanism. To ourselves. Yes, it is wild…chaotic…hard…but it is also life-giving…meaningful…worth every second.

Though I view Shane Claiborne as a brother in Christ and a person who has mentored my faith, I still have yet to follow the same radical call we have both been given. Yes, I just said that we have both been given. God and I have wrestled. And once again, He has called me. Called my wife and I. I know what His purposes are for us. I know what gifts He has given me, and I know what burdens are deep down inside of me…and those burdens and gifts can only be linked to a God who put them there…because in my own strength, or flesh, or self-centeredness, they would not come to fruition. But God is rising up inside of me.

I am called. I now know 100% I am called to “the least of these.” It has been a long, tedious, arduous, stressful, doubting path I have been treading down for a long time…but, I know for certain that this is what I was made for.

Will this edict take the form of going back to my second home? Will God lead me to the inner city? Will He direct me somewhere new? Am I called to my neighborhood in Philly? I don’t know…so please pray for us. What I do know is that wherever I go, I will be with the poor.