Radical Change. That’s Jesus. That’s the message of the New Testament.
Not narrow, controlling, or harsh, but radical.
In Jesus’ day, the religious rulers transformed God’s Law into 613 explicit rules to follow but when Jesus arrives, He simply says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) God’s Law had been framed as an endless list of external rules that no one could possibly satisfy but Jesus liberates His followers by teaching an internal change of heart. Radical.
Likewise, the New Testament’s teaching on submission is also misunderstood as harsh and controlling, but listen to what it says in the context of the society in which it was taught:
- Slaves, obey your masters (yawn, they were already doing this) but wait, Paul adds something new, “Masters, treat your slaves with respect and fear, and do not threaten them.” Radical.
- Wives, obey your husbands (Was this new? No.) but Paul adds second part, “husbands, love your wives,” and in case they didn’t know what that meant, he paints a detailed picture for them of Jesus dying on the Cross. Women’s status is suddenly elevated to the highest possible level: of deserving self-sacrificial love. Radical.
In Bible times, if a child was born handicapped, or a girl when the father wanted a boy, or unwanted for any reason, the child would be abandoned on the city wall to die from exposure. When the Christian church was ‘born,’ Christians began taking in the unwanted children and raising them themselves. Radical.
Today, Jesus message is just as radical, and just as misunderstood. “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” (John 14:15) This verse is often interpreted as a command to obey, but that is not what it is saying. Rather, the phrase is a statement of fact; obedience is the natural outcome of a heart sold out to Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we want to obey Him; we choose to obey Him. And what are His commands? He has already told us, “Love God and your neighbor.” Again, what does that look like? Self-sacrifice. Radical.
When we consider the past five weeks of testimony on the horror of Gosnell’s abortion clinic trial where pre-born and just-born children are slaughtered, stuffed in freezers, and society ignores their cry (along with the cry of millions of others here in the US, China, India and around the world), Christians are rightly outraged and are sounding the warning cry. However, while radical change is needed, change can only come from within the Spirit-empowered church. As for the rest of the world, they don’t need radical – they need rescue.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them…” (Romans 1:18-19)
But thank God for Jesus’ promise, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:4)
But wait, “How…can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14)
Just as in Bible times, society will never be transformed from the outside-in but rather by hearts transformed inside-out by the message of the Cross, joined together in unity as the Spirit-led Church of God, preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to a dark, fallen world. Radical Change, my friends, is up to us.
- Do you and/or your church regularly support Christ-honoring pregnancy centers? If not, why not?
- Does your church boldly teach on the sanctity of human life?
- How is God stirring your heart to bring radical change to your church?
- For a list of suggested books, including John Ensor’s Innocent Blood, click here.
Shadia Hrichi is a pro-life Speaker, Author of “Nameless No More: A Journey of Healing After Abortion,” and is currently writing a post-abortion bible study. She serves on the Board of Directors for RealOptions Pregnancy Centers, holds a BA in Psychology, MA in Criminal Justice, and is pursuing a MA of Biblical Studies at Western Seminary. For more information, please visit www.beautifulvoice.org. If you are involved in pro-life ministry or interested in future updates, please sign up for my Quarterly Newsletter. To subscribe to this blog or Shadia’s FaceBook Fan Page, see top right.