Kingdom Extremists

  "Now I am on trial because I am looking forward to the fulfillment of God's promise made to our ancestors.....Yet O king, they say it is wrong for me to have this hope.  Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead...........Suddenly Festus shouted, 'Paul you are insane.  Too much study has made you crazy!'  But Paul replied, 'I am not insane Most Excellent Festus.  I am speaking the sober truth.' "  Acts 26:6-8, 24-25

Extremist.  This word has an ugly meaning to most of us here in the west.  It's used to define people seen as being far outside the mainstream of public opinion and behavior.  In many cases, it's an apt description of those whose political or religious views lead them into very troubling, even violent behavior.  It's also a word that is used as a weapon by some against those that they might perceive as a threat on some level to themselves.  It is certainly a term that has been placed upon those who follow Christ, and seek to live for Him and according to His Word.  It's a weapon that's enjoyed great success in that area.

Recently author and speaker Lisa Harper told of speaking at a Christian Women's Conference and was told by the leaders that she needed to tone down her use of the name of Jesus.  They said that it made some women uncomfortable, and so, could she just use the word "God" instead, which they deemed less threatening.  I saw a video geared toward young people seeking to draw other young people to Christianity.  It was, I thought, meant to show the diversity of believers, but what I saw and heard was a collection of voices saying, in effect, "We're just like you, except that we believe in God."  Lots of use of the word "love" but the name of Jesus was never once mentioned.  It seems to me that we the church are very much on the defensive, seeking to not offend, at just about any cost.  To borrow a term from the 60's, we want to be "mellow."  We're succeeding.

The scripture I used from Acts 26 details some of Paul's defense before the king Agrippa and the Roman governor Festus.  Paul's testimony, life and ministry had truly, as Acts states, "turned the world upside down," and he was in great trouble with the secular authorities because of it.  His "statement of belief" before these men was made in such power and presence of the Lord, that Festus believed him out of his mind.  Paul was not shaken.  When Agrippa said to him, "Do you think you can make me a Christian so quickly?", Paul replied, "I pray that you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am."  These are words spoken and this is a life lived with holy passion.  A life that was unstoppable, no matter if that which sought to stop it contained all the power of hell.  Paul was a Kingdom Extremist, and these days call for more, many more, who do not fear to be the same.  Who don't fear labels, opinion polls, and the naked hate and opposition of all the power of the darkness and the devil.  Do you and I really desire to be among "the more?"

Will you and I be those whose lives are so deeply rooted and grounded in Him, so filled with His holy fire, that just living for Him wherever we are, turns that part of the world upside down?  Fearless.  Unstoppable.  Alive in Christ, and never fearing to not only speak His name, but speak it in all of its power and fullness.  Not a one dimensional culture friendly Jesus, but a multifaceted Savior, King, and Lord.  Will we try to fit in, or will we be willing to stand out, bringing no attention to ourselves, but all attention and focus upon Him?  Fearless.  Unstoppable.  Extreme.  Living with Kingdom passion.  Is this you, me, us?

Blessings,
Pastor O

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