A Year Of Living Radically
We begin the first of two posts by Meg, looking at how we can shape our living this year to honour God. Perhaps our new years resolutions are already set in stone; yet the call to 'Live Radically' is one that every believer experiences in following Jesus. Have a great weekend, N x
"It’s all very well, you Christians saying that Christianity has transformed your life – but you don’t live like Jesus!"
I can think of at least three friends who have said this uncomfortable, yet accurate, statement about Christians in the last 6 months. Doesn’t it jar? I would go on to explain that our salvation doesn’t depend on what we ourselves do, but on what the Lord Jesus has done for us.
Yet whilst this is undeniably and gloriously true, it doesn’t seem a satisfactory response.
So where do we begin? Here are some of my reflections from these verses of Paul: a man whose radical life brought him from rank and prosperity - yet alienated from God - to persecution and sacrifice – but content in Him.
‘Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.’ Romans 12:1-2
1. On account of God’s mercy
If we’re to take this teaching seriously, we will need continual reminder of God’s mercy in order to persevere. I am convinced that the whole of the Christian life stems from a love of Christ. In ‘the Radical Disciple’ (a book I would highly recommend as one that changed my life) John Stott writes: ‘the clearer our vision of Christ, the more convicted we become that he is worthy of our commitment.’ Let us fix our gaze and our worship on the Lord and, as we see his love, invite him to make us more like his Son.
2. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices
We’re not promised that living radically will be easy, it will take sacrifice. But what a hope we have! We follow a Lord who knows what it is to be a living sacrifice, who understands our weaknesses and assures us that living His way is the best possible way for us.
3. Do not be conformed to this world
How often are we tempted to follow the way of the world in how we live, what we spend our money on or who we value? In a desperate attempt not to seem like a ‘weird Christian’ we blend in so much no-one can tell the difference. Paul writes that we should stand out! Jesus was the ultimate non-conformer. He didn’t succumb to the temptation of wealth, he associated with the outcasts and was gentle in the face of adversity. We are called to be like Christ in his humility, his service, his love, his patient endurance and his mission.
4. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Transformation starts and ends with God’s working in our heart. None of this living radically business is easy stuff; and so through the highs and lows ‘cast your cares on him because he cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:7.) Pray about areas of your life where you struggle to live like Christ; preach encouraging verses to yourself daily; keep digging into and learning from His word.
5. You will be able to discern…the will of God
What an assurance, that as we are made more and more like Christ, we will become closer aligned to his good, pleasing and perfect will. Dr Helen Roseveare, who has known more suffering than I can imagine and is a real inspiration in radical living, writes: ‘God has no second-best… If I am in God’s will for me, it is His very best for me.’
Some weeks, our unbelieving friends might spend 30 minutes in conversation with a Christian about their faith, but 30 hours watching how they live; where their priorities lie; what they put their hope in. We are called to live radical lives, not for the sake of our own salvation, but perhaps for that of our friends!
‘Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.’
(1 Peter 2:12)
Living radically might look different for each of us. As an architecture student, I spend a lot of time in the competitive and pressurised studio environment. One of the ways I try and keep my head is to have a ‘Studio survival’ list of verses pinned on the inside of my locker as a daily reminder to myself. Take time to think and pray about how you can be living more radically for Christ in your environment. Talk to a Christian friend, pray with each other and don’t stop encouraging each other.
Whatever the challenges now, it will be worth it when we come into the Lord’s wonderful presence to worship him for all eternity. As the old hymn says:
‘When sufferings cease and sorrows die,
and every longing satisfied,
then joy unspeakable will flood my soul,
for I am truly home.’
Meg is in her fourth and (sadly) final year at Sheffield studying Structural Engineering and Architecture. She loves reading, eating up leftover food and going on adventures. She is often found cycling up one of the Peak District's many hills or frantically trying-to-do too much.