We live in resurrection life, we're in the Kingdom of God, citizens of heaven (1 Pet 1:3, Col 1:13-14, Phil 3:19-21) . Living in the light of being called into his Kingdom and glory (1 Thess 2:11-12), it being blatantly obvious to everyone that we've turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess 1:8-10)
This is so radical! It seems to be a lifestyle completely upside-down, obsessed with hope of future salvation in Christ. It fills my head with images of spending all my time doing things which will show that I have this obsession, and particularly, spending all my time calling others to it. It seems to contrast with and laugh at me sitting in my room studying, or making dinner, or catching buses and trains to meet half a dozen students to study the Bible then return home. It seems incredulous at my love of reading and my watching a film or going to a concert. It seems to call with Baxter, "What is a candle but to burn?" It seems to feel at odds with e.g. 1 Timothy's steady 'put the church in order for the long haul' kind of stuff - with its 'receive and enjoy good things with thanksgiving'. It holds up the example of Roger Carswell (or *insert the non-stop evangelist you know best here*), not me, or the banker, academic, full-time parent, cleaner, etc .
And it can be easily imagined that if only we in the Western church had some persecution, we would get this vision, everything could be black and white and we would have a Thessalonian witness.
Yet the NT was written to persecuted churches and what do we find? Disputes over leadership style and personality, cross-cultural disunity, arguments over doctrine, heresy, love grown cold, early gnosticism, etc. Persecution does not make a testimony radical. The truth is, that a radical testimony is "work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess 1.) The faith, love and hope are all in Jesus. The faith, love and hope get on with working steadily. The priorities are transformed outward - the work is faithful, the love labours for others and the hope for the future keeps going in the now. It doesn't make us all into non-stop evangelists, but it does infect everything.
If we don't have this radical testimony now, we can't imagine that persecution would make it clearer.
So my obsession with this is not necessarily to show by completely changing the things I do - Paul rebukes the Thessalonians for quitting work: "we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living." But everything I do spend time doing is to be transformed so that it reflects the resurrection life and Christ's kingship.
I guess that often that won't be striking. But it is radical - right down the very root of it all. And that, I find a challenge.
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