Reclaiming RadicalGuest Editorial by Tim Kernan Toronto ICC

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

Jesus was a radical preacher and revolutionary. In the passage above he explains to those who “had believed him” that without holding to his teachings they would never be his true disciples, they would never know the truth… and they would never be free. Like us, Jesus lived in a world enslaved by Satan and oppressed by his lies (John 8:44). Satan subdues the world with, among other things, fearful complacency, apathy,  (Zephaniah 1:12) mediocrity (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:17, Philippians 4:13) and materialism (Hebrews 13:5, 1 John 2:16). Jesus refused to surrender his life giving truth and taught unapologetically that only with a radical obedience to his teachings could anyone see the sunlight of liberty and breathe the fresh air of freedom.

Today over the airwaves, through the fiber-optic cables and even over many pulpits comes the same bleak and subduing drumbeat of false doctrine that Jesus fought against (1 John 5:19);

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” – John 15:1-8

Here Jesus refers to himself as the vine, which for those of us without a green thumb is the little miniature tree like section that goes into the ground, much like a root. The “vine” is the roots and trunk to which the branches attach. Every branch needs to remain attached to the vine. If ever there was a good reason to be radical this passage is it. We need to stay attached to the roots to be fruitful and live! This attachment is, in essence, radical.

Radical Disciples at the Leadership Retreat of the Northwestern United States and Canada World Sector!
Radical Disciples at the Leadership Retreat of the Northwestern United States and Canada World Sector!

God has put into the hearts of every person a desire for the authentic, the timeless, the challenging the radical (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What the world offers today is “freedom” from such things; freedom from risk, freedom from danger, and in the end result freedom from freedom itself (Galatians 5:1). Even for those few who revolt from Satan’s deception he deceives them with false alternatives. Why do so many young people seek a sense of belonging in gangs? What is the attraction of Radical Islam? Why are a thousand young Westerners joining ISIS in Syria and Iraq every month? Do gangs or Islamists recruit by emphasizing safety and comfort? No, they manipulate the pure desire that burns in each of us to belong and to be radical for God and they use it for evil purposes.

“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” – Luke 9:23-26

The word “radical” comes from the Latin “radix” which means “root”, therefore being “radical” means going back to the root, something that is at the essence of Christianity. It’s about going back to the legitimate foundation, which is Christ in his fullness. What does radical NOT mean? It does not mean unharnessed impulsivity, harsh reactions, or zeal without knowledge. For us Radical means going back to Jesus and his teachings. What is the alternative to being radical? Ask yourself, “Do we really need another preacher who teaches a lowering of the standards and a visionless Christianity?” Hasn’t lukewarmness and a lack of commitment already stolen enough from us?

Why would anyone choose NOT to be radical? By being soft on greed, idolatry (Colossians 3:5) and rebellion many ministers believe they are endearing themselves to their membership and that more people will flock to them. This was foretold in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” However throngs of adoring lukewarm fans is really the best possible case scenario for these future tenants of hell. Most, after forsaking their first love in favor of sentimentality and fear, end up with nothing… not even the love or loyalty of those they coddled.

The question we must ask ourselves is “How do I get radical for Jesus?” Step one must be getting to know Jesus teachings through great Bible study. Mere minutes a day won’t do. Disciples need to genuinely know their bibles and imprint God’s words on our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Have you studied your Bible thoroughly from cover to cover? If not then why? How many romance novels can someone read in a year… and yet a disciple can’t read one book thoroughly? Anyone who wants to get radical needs to read their Bible avidly. In the first century, before the printing press and widespread literacy, ministers dedicated themselves to reading publicly so that everyone could have a strong foundation in the Scriptures (1 Timothy 4:13). Get an MP3 Bible for the car. Plug in your headphones and listen to your Bible on top of reading it regularly for deep connection on Gods Word.

Elena McKean, Philippe and Prisca Schidecker an the Authors Family.
Elena McKean, Philippe and Prisca Schidecker an the Authors Family.

Once you know the Bible, then get to know the Early Church Fathers: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna who wrote in the first two hundred years of the church history. While not canonized Scripture they offer a glimpse into the church in the earliest times. Some of these writings will really surprise and inspire you. Others will show you the danger of deviating from the Scriptures. In both cases you will be able to wrap your mind around how the church worked in the earliest times. Being radical means connecting back to the root spirit and intent of the earliest Christians while at the same time we “make the most of every opportunity”(Colossians 4:5) using whatever modern means are available to us to advance the gospel.

Once you have read the earliest church fathers, then get a familiarity with the Anabaptists and other restorers through books like the “Martyrs Mirror” that documents their persecution and murders. Again, their battles, teachings and lives will inform you on how to be radical in your own commitment to the Lord.

Read about Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone who restored Christianity closer to our day. Alexander Campbell dreamed aloud of a day when an organized movement would strike out to evangelize the world. He didn’t see it in his time, however I believe he dreamed of what we are in the process of doing now.

Study the “History of the Spread of Christianity in Modern Times” by Ron Harding. It is an in-depth study of the work of the Holy Spirit leading a movement of radical disciples through Kip McKean and his valiant and ongoing struggle to evangelize the world in our own generation. It is an inspiring and invigorating document and a must know for the modern radical disciple.

As a movement, sometimes called the SoldOut Movement, or the International Christian Churches we are ready to give up anything, go anywhere and do anything for Christ and His Kingdom. While we don’t claim to be the only true disciples of Jesus in the world, it is my conviction that there is probably not another worldwide movement of disciples that have a plan to evangelize the world in our day.

Some will accuse us of being an “elitist” movement, however nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s not the “strong” God is looking for but the idealistic and the committed. Indeed “…the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9). God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. Again and again before our eyes we have seen the weak, from a worldly standpoint, give themselves over to God’s will and be massively strengthened. All this while the “strong”, from a worldly standpoint, make excuses instead of truly making Jesus Lord of their lives.  I believe anyone who wants to be a radical disciple of Jesus in our day should flock to the SoldOut movement and join in our victorious mission.

To truly understand the SoldOut movement one must understand the deeply held beliefs of Jesus, the Apostles, the “Early Church Fathers” and the brave and courageous restorers from the Anabaptists to Alexander Campbell to our dear leader Kip. They believed and believe in a living and spirited Church that had a mission and a critical purpose in the world (Ephesians 2:20). They believed in the true gospel of Jesus Christ that changes the world (Romans 1:16). As that gospel travels through space and time it comes up against different opposition and varying plots of Satan and therefore different aspects of the gospel will be emphasized more at different times and places. Their struggles are to the glory of God and also to our benefit if we learn from their teachings and practices. What are some of the things our radical forefathers believed, preached and lived?

They believed that only a disciple was eligible for baptism (John 4:1), not just anyone who felt so inclined to be baptized…they also believed that Christians needed to “demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20). Disciples need to make it obvious that they are disciples. Nowhere in the early church or in the teachings of radical disciples do they take the stance that “its not my business” whether someone is a disciple or not. They believed that the church was made up of fully committed, or in our parlance “SoldOut” disciples. The modern conception however, the idea of having to prove someone is NOT a disciple, has no place in the church. If someone does not prove they ARE a disciple to the fellowship by their life then no further investigation is necessary for disciples to begin to help such a person.

The Scriptures, the Early Church Fathers and powerful restorers boldly taught biblical doctrines such as repentance (Acts 3:19), baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:28), discipling (Hebrews 3:12), turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), humble and simple living (Luke 12:15), and deep commitment and loyalty to the community of true believers (Galatians 6:10).

They boldly and persuasively taught and continue to teach and inspire on biblical roles in relationships in the church. They inspired generations of heroic yet considerate men who are responsible and who provide for their wives and families (Ephesians 5:25). They teach about gentle and respectful women who are submissive to their husbands and kind (Ephesians 5:22). The Bible says that the sexes are equal and yet different (Galatians 3:28). The differences are meant to be exciting and mutually supportive.

They created and continue to create seasoned leadership through biblical teaching on radical trust and submission to authority (2 Timothy 2:2). The telltale sign of a radical disciple is always that they are in the nucleus of an indestructible band of loyal warriors who would die for one another at a moment’s notice (John 15:13).

The Kernans with the Dimitrys as they prepare to head to Las Vegas
The Kernans with the Dimitrys as they prepare to head to Las Vegas

The radical teachers believed in missions, so much so that even death was no barrier for world evangelization (Matthew 28:19). They prepared those around them for brutal, persistent and insidious persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). They sacrificed everything they had for the dream of world evangelism and called others to do the same (John 14:33).

Being radical isn’t just about reading about radical disciples. It’s about obeying the same commands they obey. It is about having the same passion they had for the same reasons they had it. They were men and women of zeal, and fervor who had great emotional excitement for the Christian work. A radical disciple does not put anyone to sleep with his sharing, teaching and preaching. At the same time being “radical” isn’t just a feeling, it’s in the consistency in believing and acting like Jesus.

The question we are asking ourselves now is “How do I radicalize others?” Or, “How do I radicalize my ministry?” Radicalization is a “virus” that can only be spread by consistent contact with a carrier, if you allow that analogy. Are you a carrier? Do you infect others? There are no shortcuts to making a radical disciple. It’s about consistent hard work, long talks, and letting them watch you lead by example before you begin to supervise them as they make radical disciples in turn. Radical Christianity is exciting, attractive, and freeing – it “sells” itself. However without your commitment to it those around you will probably not get a chance to experience it.

If we believe the writings of the Bible, the church fathers and radical disciples through the ages then Radical Christianity is the only Christianity… anything else is a subversion in the truest sense of the word. Christianity must reclaim Radical from Satan’s forgeries. ISIS and street gangs should not be the only people offering a “radical” lifestyle and belonging. Indeed God is the one who put a desire for radical in our lives and it is only in service to Him that it is truly fulfilled.  We humbly but urgently call everyone to come join us in the SoldOut movement, which constitutes a precious opportunity to bring radical discipleship to the whole world in our day!

“If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:13-15

To God be the Glory!