Saturday, January 8, 2011

Radical 1/52

There is not much new in the slim volume, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. It is a basic book and could just as well be titled:


If you've been in the church any length of time, you've heard all or most of it before. Maybe you've been compelled to respond to the Gospel at some point- raised your hand to accept Jesus, tithed, supported a Compassion Child. Good stuff. But not enough according to Platt.

Platt describes the American Dream, a phrase coined and attributed to James Adams in 1931 who described, "a which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are."
I like that. I resonate. I'm American. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps and become who it is you are destined to be. If you are of average or above intelligence, a moderate to hard worker, the sky's the limit.

But what happens when one accepts the Gospel as Truth and recognizes the authority of the Bible? Submitting to the Living Christ as Master and Savior automatically creates a schism between our faith in Him and the American Dream. "Lay down your lives" (John 5:13), "Count it all joy, when we suffer" (James 1:2); "Take up your cross" (Mark 8:34-35) and many other commands in the Bible don't exactly line up the American Dream. Many of us do what we heckle late night T.V. evangelists for. We compromise. We say that the giving that we do is enough. We say that we are not called to missions. We say that "God loves me" is the essence of the message of Jesus, the Living Christ. And in the process of making the Gospel about ME, we have
"unnecessarily (and un- biblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligation of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all."

Platt goes on to expound on "Romans 1:14-15, Paul talks about being a debt to the nations. He literally says, "I am in debt to Jews and Gentiles." The language is profound. Paul is saying that he owes a debt to every lost person on the face of the planet. Because he is owned by Christ, he owes Christ to the world.Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell"

In other words the 4.5 Billion (out of 6.7 billion) people who will die without ever having heard the Gospel message become people we are in debt to.
In other words, the 26,000 children who die each and every day, from cureable disease and hunger, around the world become people that we are in debt to.
Our 401K, bigger house, better car, professional advancement become dwarfed by the reality of something bigger than ME, someOne bigger than my dream.

Of course, Platt is making some assumptions. He is assuming that if you are a Christ follower that you accept the authority of Scripture. He is assuming that if you are a Christ follower, you accept the reality of a heaven and hell. Platt is assuming that if you are a Christ follower you believe that you will stand before the Master of the Universe and be judged by His Righteousness and His Purity and that Jesus will be your Advocate. If you believe none of those things, or are just wholly committed to the siren song of the "Dream" -health, wealth, comfort and satisfaction, then Platt is just another religious right winger, tangentially exhorting those who hope to transcend the lure of the world in hope of something more profound, more relevant, more real, more pure and Holy and True than we can imagine. If so, this book is probably not one that will make much sense, or cause you to question how you live and what your motives are.

Platt's whole point is to live Radically, not shrouded in a Dream, like Dorothy in the green fields in Oz. To put feet and money and time and soul into working out your faith, with fear and trembling, not because works will save you, but because faith without works is dead.

Platt presents a Radical Challenge at the end of the book that consists of a one year commitment to:
1. pray for the entire world (
2. read through the entire Bible
3:sacrifice your time and money for a specific purpose
4: spend time in another context
5: commit your life to multiplying community

A challenging book and highly recommended. But it would be easy to just let this book be a challenging "moment" in our lives, something that causes us to think for a minute and then go about business as usual. What Platt is suggesting is that we let the message of the Living Christ permeate our souls, our lives, our families, our dreams and take us where He will. The whole, "control, control, I must have control," auto-pilot that a lot of us live on fades away as God defines, manages, leads and directs. Scary stuff. Adventurous, crazy, Radical.

"Real success is found in radical sacrifice. Ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of god. The purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. Meaning is found in community, not individualism; joy is found in generosity, not materialism; and truth is found in Christ, not universalism. Ultimately, Jesus is reward worth risking everything to know,experience and enjoy.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Great review! I read the book several weeks ago, and I still haven't been able to wrap my mind around it all well enough to write a post about it!!

Blessings to you as you begin a new year! :)