What do you think of when you hear the phrase “extreme Christianity”? Is that something you want to identify with? Would you like to be regarded as an “extreme Christian”?
The other day I did something that every good researcher would do in my situation, I Googled the phrase “extreme Christianity”. The search yielded an astounding 7.4 million hits! In my cursory survey of about a dozen of these pages I found some scary stuff. I came across some ministries, I was exposed to some theology, that I would not want to identify with. These ministries described themselves as “extreme” versions of Christianity.
But what does the word mean? One of the definitions I came across described extreme as “exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected”. I think this is a helpful working definition for thinking about the nature of Christianity. Read just about any portion of the New Testament and you will see a great many things that “exceed the ordinary, usual, and expected”.
There is a sense then, in which we can say that Christianity is extreme.
1. An Extreme Message – Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, as Lord, and as risen from the dead (Acts 2:22-36)
2. An Extreme Response – 3,000 people responded to Peter’s message that day by being baptized, and becoming numbered among the early Church (Acts 2:41)
3. An Extreme Lifestyle – the early Christians devoted themselves to God and to one another in radical ways (Acts 2:42-47)
Read Acts 2:42-47 in particular and you will see a level of devotion that massively exceeds the ordinary, usual, and expected. There is no sign of a casual Christianity here. What is modeled for us here is undoubtedly extreme—not the scary extreme that you can easily find a website for, but an extreme that is an appropriate response to the extreme love shown to us by Jesus.
I’m increasingly convinced that if my Christianity is predictable, if my worship of God is ordinary, if my helpfulness to others is common, then I haven’t taken my devotion far enough.
I want to go after the Christianity that I see in the early Church. I want my faith in Christ, my commitment to worship, and my love for people to be extreme!
Interested? Have a listen to the audio below. Then, let’s commit to exceeding the ordinary together!