Saturday, November 6, 2010
Final thoughts on "Radical"
You and I stand on the porch of eternity. Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of the world. David Platt, "Radical"
I am very glad I read this book, I think. I say I think because I found certain parts about it unsettling. I was confronted with some things about myself that made me uncomfortable and that is not a bad thing. Any time you read a book and find yourself wanting to dive into Scripture and re-read verses you have read almost all your life I think it's good. David Platt puts a spotlight behind the words of Jesus in such a way that we can no longer brush them off or explain them away and skip merrily on to the next verse. You know, the warm fuzzy verses that tell you how much God loves you. He does love us, and if we know Him, then He already has us. But there is a vast and lonely world out there that does not know Him, has never heard the Gospel, who are hungry and thirsty and sick, and may not make it through the day. God is asking.......what are you, my church, going to do about it?
God has entrusted the church with the awesome responsibility of taking His good news to everyone else on the planet, with getting it to them before they die. It is a life and death message, and its an urgent one. It won't happen by any kind of magic osmosis. It won't necessarily happen fast, and it may take some time. By investing in relationships long term.
I came away from this book with a deeper understanding of just how much God really does love the world. He would do anything to save it, but would we? Would we be willing to sacrifice our lives to save them? Does God expect this of us? Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23, 24
What are we clinging to so tightly that we wouldn't give up for Him? There are testimonies in this book that tell of people, despite great fear and trepidation, trading in their old lives of stress and endless accumulation, only to find that He was right there waiting to bless them with something far better than anything they ever had before! The inexpressible and glorious joy that God meant for us to have all along.
I found myself questioning my giving. Do I give sacrificially or out of my excess? Do I give away what I don't want anyway, and write a check to a charity so I can sleep better at night? How much does God expect? I always felt so bad for the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and left with such sadness, but for the first time I was confronted by the fact that there is a bit of the rich young ruler in myself. Maybe much more than I care to admit.
What happens when the church starts to look so much like the world you can no longer tell the two apart? Does the world dislike us? Why should it when there is little or no distinction between us, when the church is seeking and striving after all the same things the world does?
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19
Why would God send His people to a place where sharing the gospel means certain death or imprisonment? Doesn't He want us safe? What about people who have never heard the gospel? If they have never heard it then won't they get a "go directly to Heaven pass?" But as I read, I kept thinking of Jesus words....."I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24 I don't think He was just talking about Himself.
These are some of the questions addressed in the book and I think they are valid questions. The fact that this book was on the New York times bestseller list makes me believe that many in the American church believe that something does needs to change. I have heard and read many testimonies of people who have not been afraid to look into their hearts and ask themselves the hard questions. People who felt the Spirit lay a burden on their heart to make a drastic change, to sacrifice for the good of others. I think of successful author Lisa Samson. After a missions trip, she and her husband sold their luxurious home in the suburbs and moved to the inner city to minister to the poor. She now feels blessed beyond measure.
Having said that, this is not a book meant to indict the rich, but to encourage those who have much to turn around and bless others to the glory of God. It is also not a book that says that you have to sell all you have in order to be saved.
The conclusion of the book left me with a choice and a challenge. I thought about pretending I had never read it because now I feel a response is necessary. I am grateful for it, because there are some things I needed to question. Despite how sobering I sometimes found the book, at the end I experienced something that was totally unexpected, a kind of wild exultant joy. I couldn't help but be captivated by thinking how it would be to enter into that life of radical faith and see what God could do through little scaredy-cat me.
I leave this book with my faith strengthened and I find comfort in the words of Peter after some of the disciples took off and Jesus asked if he wanted to leave too "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter knew that whatever he had to go through, living without Christ was unthinkable. I am going forward with an open and prayerful heart and I am thankful that David Platt had the courage to write it.
If any of you have read the book I would be interested to see what you thought about it!