Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is Christianity conservative?

Is Christianity conservative? (That's with a small 'c', i.e. non-political, but thoroughly traditional.) I know that certain wings of the church are labelled as conservative, including the Christian fellowship I currently belong to.

But here is an interesting thought. Jesus Himself was entirely non-conservative. In His day, He was seen as an ultra-radical, a perceived enemy of the establishment. His message of life-changing, joy-filled, sin-forgiven relationship with God shook contemporary religion to the core. How can the church He founded retain its radical origins?

Inertia avoidance is a difficult practice. We humans are good at organising, codifying, regularising - effectively setting up our own teetering towers of tradition on top of the principles of Christ. Every now and then, God uses people to demolish these towers. I think of great people like Hugh Latimer, Martin Luther, Hudson Taylor, George Muller... in effect, true Christian radicalism is simply a return to first principles, as elucidated by Jesus - and transposed effectively into a new contextual setting.

What about today? How can we be 21st century radical Christians? We need to get back to the Bible, and prayerfully see how it applies to us and our society today. Personally, I am challenged by the following points:

  • Early disciples were never ashamed to speak about their Master - I rarely represent mine.
  • They lived and breathed the Bible. 'Remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said' [Paul] was a common prefix to many of their remarks.
  • They had little regard for possessions, career prospects and social status. In our materialistic Western society, Christians are unduly influenced by the value everyone else (especially the media) places on these things. 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' [Sermon on the Mount]

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