Unfold Chapter 7: Radical

As we turn to Chapter 7 in our series titled “Unfold: A Year of Discovering Story,” we move from Cosmic Wisdom to Radical.

By Rev. Phil Dieke
This may seem like a strange jump. However, in a lot of ways, the development from, and growth through, Cosmic Wisdom leads to radical change. After the Teacher, of Ecclesiastes, applied his mind to “investigate and explore by wisdom all that happens under heaven by wisdom,” he was never the same. His whole outlook on life changed. Similarly, the Job of the early chapters and the Job of the closing chapters of the book are not the same Job. He is still a “blameless and upright man who fears God and turns away from evil,” only now his life was radically changed by all that wisdom had taught him (see Job 42:15 for an example of this).
Radical may seem like a difficult word. One of those words that when you hear it you don’t often think of positive things. You may associate the term radical with extreme, or more specifically extremism. Images of politicians or religious zealots may come to your mind as you quickly jump from the term radical, to extremism. In some ways this is wisdom. Your experience has taught you to be cautious around extremists… those who claim to be radical. They disrupt the status quo, challenge established systems, and in some cases instigate violent attacks or create violent uprisings. Even as you read this, my guess is there is a person, or a group of people, you are associating with this description. Are they there? Can you name them? Picture them? Is that person…
Did you see that one coming? A quick Google search of “Jesus radical” will produce more books than you probably have time to read. This concept is not new. There have been theologians, academics, and Gospel readers for thousands of years who have recognized Jesus as a radical figure. Not only did he disrupt the status quo and challenge the established religious and political systems of first century Palestine, he also pushed people of faith back to the root of their beliefs.

Radical comes from the term radix, meaning root, or more
specifically, “going to the origin, essential.”

As we enter into chapter 7 we will be invited to explore the roots of our faith. As we explore we’ll ask questions such as:
  • What (or who?) is the origin of your faith? 
  • What is essential to, and for, your faith? 
  • Do you find your expression of faith is radical? 
Again, our minds so quickly jump to “radical” as a term with negative connotations. As we journey this chapter consider what is worthy of pushing you to the extremes. If love is our driving force, might we be “love extremists” in a culture so focused on division and othering? 

We look forward to continuing our Unfold journey with you these next few weeks. Let us know your thoughts on “radical,” or if you want to connect for further conversations, by emailing us at office@wrumc.org.
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