From the Jan. 23 edition of Your Two Cents: What does it mean to live "the radical way"? How can we do it? How do you see others do it? What's keeping us from doing it?
Todd Kingrea: "I wish I could count the number of times I've had this discussion – or ones like it – with youth groups, church members, and fellow clergy. I think we all know what keeps us from living the radical, revolutionary life of discipleship we see in scripture. As Christians in the most affluent society on the planet, we are too concerned about what others think. We are afraid if we live radically, God may have the audacity to challenge us about our consumption, materialism, and waste. He may want to do things in our churches that we don't approve of. He may ask things of us that we are not willing to do, give, or surrender.
"Organized religion in the United States is perceived by many to be all about 'buildings, butts, and budgets.' We argue over what color to paint the fellowship hall or 'who sat in my pew' last week, while ignoring the hard call of discipleship. We want comfort, convenience, and security. We want it now, with the style of music we approve of, in a 60-minute time slot.
"To live 'the radical way' means to be seen as different, counter-cultural, willing to focus on the Kingdom of God rather than on what our world and society tell us is important. It means that the unchurched outside our doors are more valuable than our worship styles or clean carpets. When we begin to realize this – and begin to live it out in our lives – we will be on the road down the radical way.
"There is a passage of scripture that we are all familiar with. It is found in John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. One way that the word 'abundantly' can be translated in the original Greek is 'the kind of life not normally seen among [people].' How many of us can honestly say that the lives we live are the kind 'not normally seen' in our society? THAT is what 'the radical way' means."
The Rev. J. Todd Kingrea is pastor at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church of Etowah, Tenn., located in the Cleveland District.