I remember the tumultuous days of 1968. The top stories of that year included the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. in April. Two months later, in June, Robert Kennedy was murdered. Two months later, in August, Hizzoner Mayor Richard J. Daley presided over the demolition of the Democratic National Convention as the Chicago police beat up on anti-Vietnam War protesters in the streets. It was an intense year.
We are now living in similar times. Pressure has been building for several years. Now the cultural upheaval is exploding. “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?” (Ezekiel 33:10).
I also remember how Francis Schaeffer lived during that spasm of national self-injury. His example can guide us in these days. And there was one thing that stood out about Francis Schaeffer: he was radical. Not hysterical. Not fanatical. But radical. He followed the vector of the gospel out into bold and costly obedience in ways that other pastors and leaders just hadn’t thought of or dared to attempt. He told the radical truth of Scripture — lovingly and gently, but without backing off. He and his wife Edith practiced radical hospitality, with personal sacrifice. Rather than reject the radicals of those times, he identified with them and adapted his ministry to match their boldness. He was unafraid to welcome into his world young people as they really were, without fearing them or expecting them to change first. He worked tirelessly, even to his own disadvantage, for the advance of the gospel in culture and dress and communication that the rising generation could hear clearly and respect. And God honored his ministry with radical impact.
2015 is the new 1968. And I’m glad to be right here, right now, with you, for the most radical cause in history. No hysterics. No fanaticism. But radical followers of Jesus doing whatever it takes to communicate the fullness of the gospel in the extremity of our times.
Let’s get after it.