Radical Hate Vs. Radical Love

ISIS scares me.

There’s nothing as frightening as reckless, fanatical hatred. There’s no way to reason with it. It seems the more you try to fight it the faster it grows.

What’s also frightening is that some young people are drawn to it. Maybe they are attracted because it’s a bold uncompromising position. Maybe it even seems austere and “righteous.” Definitely it is black and white in a world that loves 50 shades of gray. “If you are not wholeheartedly with us, you are the enemy.” Black and white: no middle ground. –Something to die for.

Maybe young people are drawn by a clear compelling vision. There’s nothing politically correct about this. There is one radical objective. There’s no uncertainty about the end goal. It will be achieved “by whatever means (even horrific ones) necessary.”

By contrast Jesus calls us to radical uncompromising love. We can make this even more inspiring for young people without sick, slick execution videos.

 Our Bold Uncompromising Position: Love All

Can we get young people excited about sacrificial love?

I love the legend of St. Valentine. I don’t know how much of it is true and how much was added to the story of a martyr awaiting execution. Despite the brutality and hate directed toward him, like so many of the early Christian martyr’s he returned abuse with forgiveness and love.

The emperors complained that the blood of the martyrs was seed. Young people can be inspired by the Christians’ fierce love and faith that allowed them to pray for their torturers and change the ancient world.

 The Black and White Part

Jesus gave us no loophole. There is no category of person, soldier, master, persecutor, or dictator that we are not commanded to love. We aren’t calling young people to tolerate others, we are calling them to lay down their lives for them. That’s not a moderate position. To parents and teachers this active compassion for others would appear fanatical.

 A Clear Compelling Vision

In the dark ages the church lost its way. At points it lost sight of its mandate to love the lost and be the  light of the world. They killed in the name of God, King, and Country.

Today we know better but we lack motivation. Teens can be inspired. They can be motivated. I have seen them make huge sacrifices when they believe in what their church or youth group is doing. Have you provided the big picture? Do they know that by putting others first, doing bold acts of kindness of compassion because they are directed by Jesus that changing lives for an eternity? Maybe they need to see that they are part of billions of believers worldwide who building the kingdom.

 A Unifying Goal

I understand why we offer teens entertainment and enjoyment. It keeps them coming back long enough to eventually commit their lives to Christ. The danger in our method is they might miss the urgency of our mission. We don’t want to frighten teens off by our absolute devotion to the task of seeing everyone on the planet become fully committed followers of Jesus. Maybe they need to see more of this passion of ours though. Maybe we should be upfront about why we provide an atmosphere with food, fun, and friends? It’s because we are desperate to help every human know the love of Christ. 

Radical Love

Radical anything sounds scary these days. People would want teens to embrace a faith that is tolerant, harmless and mixes well in public. They may want them to be good students and to blend right in. This kind of Christianity does not inspire young people and I wonder if they would feel it’s worth living for.

I think that we are trying to live lives of love and devotion to Christ that are worth dying for. What can we do so  that teens notice and start living it too.

Any thoughts on radical love… please comment.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com