11: Radical

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

– Revelations 3:16

Along with this verse, Fr William always uses the story of how the man who sat on the fence ended up in hell, because the fence belonged to the devil too. And so we are all called to live the Radical Christian Life.

The word ‘radical’ always evokes the idea of extremity. And yet extremes are only defined relative to the popular, which can hardly be a yardstick of our faith. So perhaps when we say ‘radical’, we really mean ‘fundamental’ or ‘inherent’. The idea is that of integration and entirety, rather than extremity. Our faith forms an inherent or fundamental centre of everything we do, and thus permeate into every aspect of our lives. In that sense, we are radical in not compartmentalizing God. Sure, radical Christians often live extreme lives; but that is only because the Christian life is so unpopular. To be extreme simply for its own sake is a matter of pride.

Besides, even in our extremities, we are talking about a very different conception from that of the world. Not everyone is going to be a rock star (spectacular), a CEO (powerful) or a missionary (relevant). We are going to be mediocre businessmen, accountants, engineers and lawyers. Thus our faith teaches that we do not define ourselves by what we do, but who we are. We are unique (and thus extreme) not because we do something, but because we are someone. Our radicalism comes from the monasticism of daily life, from the willingness to be ordinary, from the realization that we are prophets of a future not our own, from the knowledge that we are but parts of One Body, and from the hope that we are meant for more than this world.

This is no excuse not to be the best that we can be, of course. But it does free us from the burden of being the best that the world says that we have to be.

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About Mel

I dreamt I was a whale. https://melvynfoo.wordpress.com/about-mel/