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What if Christianity were dangerous?

What if being a Christian really cost something? What would the First World church look like if living our faith meant losing friends, family, property, livelihood, reputation? How many of us would sign up for that kind of journey? What if being a Christian were dangerous?

It would be nothing like what we see in most churches today. Christianity has long been the conformist, respectable religion of Western society. It was the safe choice. The get-ahead choice. The don’t-get-burned-at-the-stake choice. Far more dangerous to question the official religion than to play along.

The toxic combination of religious symbols and state power has fundamentally warped the witness of the Christian faith. It’s fair to wonder whether the radical, joyful roots of the faith could ever be recovered. Yet, throughout history, we witness movements that rise up and profoundly challenge the false gods of Empire. Like weeds pushing their way through the cracks in the concrete, the seeds of the Kingdom rise up even in the midst of overwhelming falsehood and violence.

Breaking concrete takes a lot of effort. It’s easy to mouth pretty words about glory and a far-off heaven. It’s a lot harder to live a life transformed by the power of God. It’s no big deal to participate in religious rituals – whether sermons and lectures, communions and baptisms, or presidential inaugurations and Veteran’s Day celebrations. Being a person of faith doesn’t have to cost anything. Bending a knee to the official ideology always pays tidy dividends.

Such public religiosity has little to do with the living way of Jesus. Despite all we’ve heard about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the life of discipleship will not be limited to personal piety. For those of us who have been called to follow Jesus, we discover a profoundly risky path. Friends of Jesus can no longer go along with the status quo. Despite the trembling terror of it, we have been called to speak truth to power. To reveal the strength of God in our weakness. If necessary, to have our own bodies thrown upon the gears of oppression.

This is the heart of the gospel. For us who have experienced the radical presence of Jesus Christ, we can no longer be conformed to the assumptions of the culture around us. Even if that culture claims to be Christian.

It’s no accident the early followers of Jesus were called blasphemers by Jewish traditionalists, andatheists by the Roman Empire. Authentic Christianity challenges the civil religion of the ruling authorities. It reveals the moral emptiness of the false piety of empty rituals and go-along-to-get-along religion. The way of Jesus is profoundly prophetic – so much so, that we may be mistaken for heretics and insurrectionists. This is par for the course.

But what do you say? Are you ready for a faith that has nothing to do with providing easy answers? Are you ready for a Jesus who, rather than propping up the assumptions and authorities of our culture, is here to knock the mighty off their thrones, to lift up the weak and poor?

Do you have the courage to embrace this dangerous Christianity, to walk in the prophetic way of Jesus? What are you prepared to lose?

Micah Bales
Web & Communications Specialist
Friends United Meeting

Prayer Requests

Pray for healing for Jose Luis Pena Reyes’ son who has been in the hospital with pneumonia. Jose is a member of Puerto Padre Monthly Meeting and a leader in Cuba Yearly Meeting and the Cuban Quaker Peace Institute. Jose is also active in the FWCC Section of the Americas.

Please pray for John Muhanji and Rose Afanda. They have just learned that Rose has breast cancer and was scheduled for surgery at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi yesterday. Pray for healing and peace throughout this process.

Pray also for Lon Fendall who has a procedure to explore a growth in the bladder area and to take a biopsy. Pray for healing and peace once a decision is made on treatment.

Pray for the Barber family as they move to a new apartment and launch their new independent ministry in Belize. Pray that these transitions go smoothly for them and that God is glorified in their new work.

Pray for reconciliation among Kenyan Friends, that the various yearly meetings that are threatened with schism will experience powerful healing and a renewed commitment to unity.

In this season of Advent, in which we anticipate the coming of the Christ child, pray that our hearts will be tender to the subtle promptings of the Spirit and that the old stories of faith will breathe afresh in our lives at this time.