Is “Radical” Too, or Not Enough?-Part 1

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last blog post.  I’ve been doing some traveling, hosting guests at our home, and dealing with a couple of deaths.  I mean to be more faithful, thank you for bearing with me, and returning to this page!  During the down time these past couple of weeks, I have been reading and contemplating David Platt’s book, “Radical” published in 2010 by Multnomah.  Here is a synopsis.

Platt contends that many if not most American Christians today – people who ultimately make up Christian churches across the nation – are living to fulfill the “American Dream” in their lives (work hard so that you can play hard, accumulate stuff, and retire well), rather than live the life Jesus modeled for his followers, as summed up in Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Platt himself created a YouTube video explaining his perspective.  You can view the video by clicking: Radical

Reading the first handful of chapters, two things came to mind.  One, his thoughts are reminiscent of prominent 20th century theologian A.W. Tozer and the late Christian singer, Keith Green, both of whom wrote prolifically (in sermons, books and lyrics) about the potential demise of the Christian church’s influence in relevant society.  “The church is not hungry for God” … “Christians are not willing to model themselves after Christ,” they would bemoan (my paraphrases); concluding, at least in Tozer’s case, that because Christians (and thus churches) are not passionately seeking God’s presence, God is becoming more and more absent from Christian life.

My second impression from the book’s initial chapters was that Platt’s thoughts are not well focused.  (As my friends in the editing profession would say, “He needed a good editor!”)  All I was getting was sharp criticism about the American Christian church at large, compared to the (mostly house) churches Platt was visiting in the 10-40 Window, stating that we are becoming too much a product of our own culture rather than living “in the world, but not of the world,” as Jesus phrased it.  Where was he heading with all this?  Doesn’t he realize these house churches are also a product of their culture?  The result of the persecution that surrounds them?

It wasn’t until about Chapter 4, “The Great Why of God,” that Platt begins to hone his focus.  The reason for God’s lavish grace in our lives – as American Christians that enjoy more wealth and what we call “the good life” than 95+ percent of the global population – is not our own comfort.  It is to extend His glory around the world.

“To disconnect God’s blessing from God’s global purpose is to spiral downward into
an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace.”
Page 71

Now I like to think I am sold-out for God, and I try to reflect that in my choices and lifestyle.  But in reality I know this kind of commitment is a process, and I have lots of room to grow.  While I honestly don’t think we can ever escape our culture completely, I believe Platt is right.  Christians and Christian churches must review the foundational teaches of Jesus and start a dialog (that turns into action) about what a life of discipleship looks like, in the culture we live in.  I for one am grateful for another reminder to take a good hard look inside, and realign my own attitudes and practices to Biblical beliefs.

So here’s where we’ll head next time.  First, HOW do we become Christ’s true disciples in today’s culture (according to “Radical”), is this “too much to ask” or not enough, and what does fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28) mean for us who claim to be followers of Jesus…even if we are not called to the mission field, or we can’t “go” for very legitimate reasons (a position many true believers find themselves in).

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