How to be a Radical Christian. (iii)
For I am not shamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
Have you ever shuddered or cringed a little when someone mentioned the name of Jesus to somebody? Maybe at work or at a ballgame. Maybe, you thought to yourself, there are proper places and times to talk about Jesus, but not here, and not now.
Well, have you heard the tradition surrounding the apostle Paul’s last few moments on earth? Talk about bad timing and bad places.
Emperor Nero arrested Paul for insurrection and threw him into prison. The apostle’s first stay in prison had resulted in most of the guards and many in Nero’s household converting to Christianity. So this time, Nero made sure that Paul had little contact with people or visitors.
On the day of Paul’s execution, Nero allowed just a few spectators and only the most hardened, veteran soldiers to escort the apostle to the execution site, outside Rome on the Tiber River.
Paul was unfazed by his fast approaching martyrdom. He preached the gospel as he walked along. His words touched the hearts of more than one soldier; and they, too, were executed with Paul that day.
Just think, Paul so believed in the life-giving message of the gospel that he was willing to seal the fates of any last-minute converts to the same death that was pronounced over him: beheading.
Now, that is a radical love for the gospel.
And that is what every radical Christian must have. A love for the gospel that can only be extinguished by the death of the believer.