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Section Two - Things that Hinder
Chapter 15 - Our initial Handicap
In section one, we established the foundation of the Christian life by examining how things are supposed to work with particular emphasis on truth and love. Few Christians find and follow a direct path to Jesus and Christ-likeness. For most of us, there are obstacles that must be overcome. This section will provide the radical Christian with an understanding of why and how he may have come to such a disadvantageous circumstance.
Using the word 'radical' to describe Christianity usually causes people to think of a crazed zealot shouting at everyone. However, the thesis of this book is that what the bible describes as normal or expected Christianity only seems 'radical' when contrasted to the type of traditional or institutionalized Christian 'cruise control' that is common today. The word 'radical' is selected to impart both a sense of urgency as well as intensity in a call to examine what most of us have come to consider as minimally acceptable Christian living. It is always good when reviewing a subject to start with a standard against which we can make comparisons. Here the bible helps us to understand what was expected for each of us when we became Christian.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: - Ephesians 4:11-13
Any Christian who is honest will admit that he falls woefully short of the desired path expected of a Christian, which leads to Christ-likeness. In fact, often we have come so far from this standard that we see it not as an expectation, a possibility, or even something that can be partially accomplished. Rather, we often have come to see these verses as describing a vague ideal like the movie character E.T. telling a child 'Beeee Goood'.
We can ask ourselves how we have come to accept a cartoon version of what the Christian life should entail. If we consider some of the difficulties Christians face in attempting to live a normal (what is now considered radical) Christian life, we can begin to see how we came to be so distant from our Savior and the path he would have us walk. It can be helpful to consider some of the categories of obstacles that confront the Christian.
1. A poor, incomplete, or erroneous idea of what Christianity is and how it is lived.
2. An inherited legacy of Christian tradition that misdirects us.
3. A crippled ability to trust in the bible.
4. Concerns with and interest in the things of the world.
5. Unrestrained fleshly inclinations.
6. Pharisee-like self-righteous smugness of achievement.
7. Diverted into scripted roles defined by organized systems.
8. Being unaware of the traps Satan has set out to ensnare Christians.
9. Having been diverted from individual inquiry into passive dormancy.
10. Being unaware of Christian alternatives and options.
11. Having been conformed to the patterns of the world.
12. Inhibiting influences from friends, family, and coworkers.
If what we have come to practice is not real Christianity but some cartoon version of it, the 'radical' part is breaking with that which has diverted us, seeking that which is true, and drawing closer to him who died for us.
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