I'm just finishing up a book I've had on my list to read for a while called Radical. The book is written by David Platt, pastor of McClain Bible Church in Washington and known mainly for his annual six-hour teaching called Secret Church and for this book. And after reading this book, I'm finding myself more challenged than I've ever felt before.
Radical challenges Christians in a way that shouldn't be surprising - based on the Word of God. But the reason the book and the teaching IS so radical that we take the words of Jesus for what he's actually saying, instead of interpreting everything through our American westernized view.
Platt spends the majority of this book arguing against the "American Dream." Simply put, the American Dream is equality of opportunity to be able to achieve whatever we want. In America, we make lots of money (If you own a house and a car, you are in the top 1% of riches in history), drive nice cars, have nice houses, and buy lots of stuff to make us happy - or at least we think it will. We are always chasing what's next - the bigger and better. We want more.
Contrast that with the teachings of Jesus, who taught us to go and make disciples. He told the rich man to give up all that he had and follow Him (Matthew 19:16-24). We see that everyone who spent their lives following Jesus ended up traveling to the ends of the earth to tell others about Him. All but one was martyred in brutal fashion. They knew death was coming, because Jesus promised that the world would persecute them (John 15:18-25), and it would hate them, and yet they chose to do what they did, and like Jesus, they glorified Him til the end, singing songs as they died and asking God to forgive their killers. What kind of life is this??
The Jesus that I claim to follow has said that whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for His sake will find it. His call to his disciples "Follow me" sounds so simple, and yet he was asking them to give up everything they knew.
In the book, Platt explains a newspaper headline that sums up today's American church. Front and center, the headline read "First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building". It was followed by quite a long article describing the beautiful building, with it's exquisite stained glass windows and flawless design.
Then, Platt looked at the next article. This one was tucked in the corner and read "Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees." This article described how there were over 350,000 refugees in Sudan, and most of them dying of malnutrition. The Baptists raised $5,000 to send to Sudan.
$23 million dollars on a building. $5,000 to people, who not only are dying, but are likely dying to spend their eternity in hell because they have never heard the Gospel.
What are we doing? What am I doing??
Do I really need more stuff? What DO I really need? Do I need a really nice house, or a nice car to drive? Do I want people to look at me and just think of all the stuff that I have? "Boy, that guy's got it made. He's got everything he wants, right?"
I don't. And I know that I'm never going to live a life of luxury. This was already my plan, but this book has convinced me even more that I'm never going to have much stuff. I'll never drive the nicest car or have the biggest house. I want to give, I want to love the poor and love my neighbor. Like Jesus did.
Does all of this mean that all of us need to give away everything we own and go to a foreign country? Not necessarily. But the book takes the teachings of Jesus and takes our justifications out of it. This is not the life we are called to.
Does this mean I am going to be a missionary now? I don't know. It's not out of the realm of possibility. I don't know what's next for me, I'm still seeking that. But I simply pray that God would use me. Take away my fear of people and what they think of me, and give me the courage to share the Gospel with coworkers, classmates, and everyone I come into contact with.
I have a problem that I care way too much what other people think of me. I let that dictate so much of what I do. And I think if maybe I just approach things the right way, maybe if I wait for just the right moment and I can say just the right words, I can share the Gospel and everything will be perfect, people will come to Christ, and everyone will love me!
As you probably know from your own life as well, those don't come. God didn't say "Wait for people to come to you, and then you can tell them about me." He said "GO into all the world."
On top of that, Jesus promised that if we follow Him, the world will hate us. So my fantasy of everyone liking me and me being the perfect Christian that everyone looks up to is never going to happen.
I don't know where I'm going to go yet. At least for now, the people I go to will likely be local. But I know one thing, I want to follow the radical teachings of Jesus, and not just keep living life the way I am now.
I really challenge you to read this book. If you love Jesus and aren't content with the things of this world,