About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Radicalism Vs Traditionalism   

The early 1970's was the time of my youth as a Christian.  It was also the days of the so-called radical movement of the hippies.  There was an even more radical group that came out of the hippie movement.  These people were called Jesus People.  Although I never was a real hippie, I was a part of the Jesus People movement.  Back in those days we wanted to be radical.  We did not want traditionalism.

What did we mean by being radical.  Well we wanted to get Jesus out of the church building  and on to the streets where the people could be found who needed Him.  We thought that was radical, and maybe it was.  I remember one of Larry Norman's albums was called Street Level.

Being radical also meant that we grew our hair long and wore faded jeans. Our style of meetings were somewhat different than the regular Sunday morning church service.  We tried to be different.  To us this was radical.

I do believe that each generation must be allowed to express their faith in their own way that is relevant to the world in which they live.  Yet what really is radical?  Sure we did things differently, but after a few years of doing things differently, did not this become our own form of traditionalism?  

Basically what ever is done for a long period of time becomes traditional.  So in fact some of our radical activity really became our new tradition.

Once my friend asked our pastor if he could speak first and then have a time of worship after he spoke.  That idea was turned down.  We were claiming to be a radical church, but when someone suggested something different, we had to say no.  The ironic thing was that a guest speaker came to speak a month or so later and told us that he had just come from a church that had their speaking first and their singing second.  It was okay for them but not for us.

Paul, in his letters (e.i. Gal. 5:6) said circumcise or non circumcise meant nothing.  A new heart meant everything.  The same with us today.    The way we may or may not do things as Christians is not the important issue.  Whether we sit to sing or stand, whether we preach before the singing or after, whatever we do, no matter how different it is, it soon becomes traditional.  What really matters is what is in our hearts when we do the things we do.  

Let's not judge others by saying they are too radical, or not radical enough.  Let's judge righteously.  Let's acknowledge that whatever someone does, if it is in faith from a true heart felt love for Jesus it is good.  Maybe this is real radicalism.  Things that are done traditionally, if they are from a good heart of faith is what Jesus wants.     


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