Love of God Podcast Personalities
 

Christian Humanism and Christian Radicalism

To experience the full richness of Christ we need to live both his natural and radical qualities. Typically we are open to one, but oblivious to the other.

Diagram of two overlapping circles; one Christian, one non-Christian                 

Thoughts, words and actions can be identified as Christian or non-Christian. (Determining the degree of overlap is left as an exercise to the reader!)

  1. The area in common (the football-shaped slice), let's call "Christian Humanism," which includes things like going to the theater or bearing a child. And this would include any and everything of non-Chritian religions that really has God in it.
  2. The area uniquely Christian (the right moon-shaped slice) let's call "Christian Radicalism," which includes things like sharing your faith in Jesus or praying to Jesus—things which appear "radical" to non-Christians.

Let's explore both Christian Humanism and then Christian Radicalism.


I. Christian Humanism

Christian Humanism is the recognition of God present in humanity. Because Jesus is 100% God and also 100% man, human-ness is not something we tolerate, but something with designed excellence, reflecting God's image, and activated with divine life through Christ.

So, we shouldn’t think "when I get to Paradise I'll shed my body and evolve into a mystical consciousness." Jesus promises us a transformed, glorified, organic existence, as he is now! The creation, incarnation and resurrection endorse the physical creation; perfected in a Heaven that offers holy sensuality (literally "of the senses").  

How does this have practical value?  There is a danger that we will miss out on profound experiences of Christ through our natural humanity and through things that aren't uniquely identifiable as "Christian."

Photo of people being human at an amusement parkA person who disregards their humanity can be said to suffer from "super-spiritualism" which means emphasizing spiritual things to the exclusion of physical things. (The prefix "super" is not used in the sense of excellence, but is a sarcastic term.) Though God will never sacrifice a spiritual good for a physical good, that doesn't mean that the physical world is valueless. Its value is simply subordinate, the back half of the same coin.

So, what are clues we’re being superspiritual? It might be present if:

To remedy superspiritualism, pray about the humanity of Jesus. Also, prioritize time for sports, art, music and good reading. Lighten up and emphasize relationships over religious tasks. Your humanity is not just earthly baggage until you reach Heaven. It’s God's intentional design. The Bible says your body is where the Holy Spirit dwells, the temple of God; so getting in touch with humanity is a key way God manifests Himself. There are many ways to profoundly experience God in the natural: through your spouse, friends, children, walks in the country, etc.

Consider this. Why did Jesus have to walk from town to town? Didn't he have enough faith for the Father to "beam" him over? Silliness. If his life were only supernatural Jesus would've denied his own human nature and would reduce God's image. He did many things not unique to Christianity: He was a carpenter. He attended weddings, dinners, feast days. He wept, became tired, grew in wisdom, drank wine and played with kids. We are to live a sensual life, in a holy way.

Jesus is our model. Now let's experience another side of him.

II. Christian Radicalism

God is profoundly available in natural human activities (e.g, birthdays, shopping, vacations, etc.) However, if our Christianity is limited to this, we're missing out on the higher dimension of God's blessing. (And why be Christian?)

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus repeatedly promises rewards in Heaven when we go beyond the natural. "If you love only those who love you, where is your reward? Don’t the unbelievers do that?" To do only the natural offers no permanent reward from God. We must also be unnatural, courageous, even heroic—to live the love of God.

Examples?

Often we seek radical blessings without a radical investment. There's a price. The apostle Paul says genuine Christians are viewed as "fools for Christ," "scum of the earth," and the "refuse of the world."  In fact, the word "church" in Greek (ekklesia) means "called out of" or "set apart from."

Those neglecting all things radical are called "carnal" which prioritizes the flesh over the Spirit. A carnal Christian sacrifices eternal goods for temporal ones. Yet my life shouldn’t make sense unless it’s clear that I'm investing in Heaven. True Christianity is impossible without it. In fact, "radical" actually means "getting to the root."

Love is proved when we have to sacrifice comfort. However, with God radical investment brings radical rewards. Is that true? What does your experience indicate?

Summary

Photo of a glass of Cabernet SauvignonA winemaker strives for excellence by properly blending the softer elements (fruit, sweetness) and the harder elements (acidity, tannin, etc.). Fruit without firmness, tastes flimsy like Kool-Aid; firmness without fruit tastes lifeless and unattractive. God artfully produces a full, pleasing blend; Christian Humanism flavors life, while Christian Radicalism brings it strength.

How should one emphasize these two areas in day-to-day living? This can only come through Jesus in daily prayer. Christianity is a relationship.

For in Christ all the fullness of God lives in bodily form.
Colossians 2:9