Ordinary Radical

Ordinary Radical July 10, 2008

Amy the Radical with Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw
Amy the Radical with Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, both of whom, by the way, smelled great.

I would not say that I am a radical by any stretch of the imagination, even though a lot of people assume that I am. (I think it’s the whole woman pastor thing, but I am not really trying to be radical. Sometimes you just have to play the cards you’re dealt, you know?)

Yes, I would say that I definitely am not a radical. I mean, I recycle (and I recycled when recycling wasn’t cool).  But . . . I also feel pretty strongly that God created deodorant for our liberal and regular use.

So, you can imagine that I felt a little out of my element the other night when Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw pulled up in their biodiesel-fueled, hand painted bus for a stop at Calvary on the Jesus for President book tour. Shane and Chris have just published this new book, and Shane is well known for his first book The Irresistible Revolution, in which he coined the phrase “ordinary radical.”

There was no question. Though it is true that I recycle, it felt at first that the crowd on that bus and even many of the 500+ folks in our sanctuary that night were way more radical than I will ever hope to be. Dreads would never look good on me and God help me if I ever have to make my own clothes. You already know how I feel about deodorant and I’d never given much thought to acquiring a vehicle that runs on vegetable oil (until recent gas price hikes, of course).

I’d read their book, Jesus for President, which challenges the assumptions of our “empire” and suggests perhaps Christians are called to live differently, but I just didn’t know if I could be any kind of radical. Even an ordinary radical.

That evening, though, I met people all across the spectrum. There were folks who wear suits on Capitol Hill everyday and people who grow organic vegetables in blighted city neighborhoods. Old people, young people, weird looking people and respectable types, too. The thing that was so moving to me was that all of them were there to join Shane and Chris in a conversation about what it really means to follow Jesus.

I got to thinking that perhaps what makes us radicals-even relatively normal me-is not so much what we wear or what we drive.

I’m thinking it’s more the deep conviction that faith in Jesus Christ has to mean something.

The church cannot be an irrelevant institution wielding power on behalf of society. Jesus calls us to be different from the world around us, so that when people are confronted day after day after day with war and power grabbing, exploitation and violence, we can stand up and say no! Vehemently and, yes, radically . . . no.  We have been invited into relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not like membership in the Junior League! When we radically choose to follow Jesus, there’s nothing that won’t be pushed, changed, challenged, transformed.

In the end, that’s what I loved about the Jesus for President evening at Calvary.

I didn’t agree with everything Chris and Shane said, and I still feel called to wear deodorant.

But being in conversation with people who kept inviting me to look at ways I can show the world a different way made me realize that maybe I am a radical.

Isn’t that the essence of following Jesus anyway?  Always looking at things with the eyes of possibility. Always expecting the transforming power of God’s Spirit. Always modeling for the world a different way to live.

Deodorant or not.


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