What IS radical faith? Absolute. Complete. Total obedience. Walking when the way seems unclear. Stepping off the ledge of certainty into the unknown only because you know the Lord has instructed you to do so. Following blindly, willingly, unhaltingly. Plunging fully forward into the will of God no matter how crazy it might seem. THAT is radical faith.
When we think about radical faith I think often we picture Hebrews 11 - and rightly so! The "Hall of Faith" records stories about men and women of God who lived with reckless abandon, willing to give up their very lives and every detail of them to the will of God. We look at them in awe and wonder how they did it. We think we could never get there. But I'm telling you, we can!
The men and women mentioned were men and women - flesh, bone, and sinful. There was a catch, however. They were superhuman. Kidding! They were just like us. So how did they do it? By owning a radical, abandoned, wholehearted faith in the One we serve. By putting into obedience every part of their lives to God's will on a daily basis. This kind of radical faith does not come all at once but slowly and surely over time. It comes by training ourselves in repeated obedience so that when He says 'walk' and the path seems unclear we will start moving anyway. So that when He says 'run' we will not calculate the distance necessary to cross the finish line before we take off. So that when He says 'follow' we will unhesitatingly, unhaltingly, unswervingly walk after the Lord no matter the situation He asks us to follow Him in.
You know the old adage, "Practice what you preach"? Well the other day I heard a new rendition of this little phrase and it made a whole lot more sense.
Instead of practicing what we preach, or telling people to do something then making sure we're doing it as well, what if we started preaching what we practice? In other words, what if we started living out what we were supposed to do and only then talking about it? Paul basically instructs us to do this when he tells us to follow him as he follows Christ. It's not a 'do what I say' mentality, but a 'do what I do' mentality. This is the heart of discipleship. A life wrapped up in right living, right thinking, right doing and then right teaching. Teaching does not come first, doing does.
When we think about the church and various pitfalls which occur - church being boring, an astounding amount of hypocrisy, discipleship gone wrong etc, I think more often than not it comes down to this principle. It is all too easy to "preach at" people - and I think you know what I mean when I say this. We've all been "preached at." Whether by a pastor or a friend or a youth leader. The problem comes when the person speaking their message or two minute blurb fails to live out what is being preached. If we tell people to love one another then fail to do so, our lives will amount to little more than a walking textbook for what not to do. But if we actually live out the love of Jesus then let our words mirror our actions, we will do far more teaching than our words alone ever could.