This week I finished Radical by David Platt. It’s one in a series of books that have wrecked my normal way of thinking. Books like Crazy Love and Mercy Rising, that God has been using to force me out of my comfort zone. Here’s what I want to remember from Radical: (I found this book to be amazing. I am only including some of my highlighted points, and this is still a terribly long post. My apologies!)
- I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.
- This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love Him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that He will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives.
- This is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist Him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with. A nice, middle-class American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, He loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream.
- We desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical.
- The gospel reveal eternal realities about God that we would sometimes rather not face. We prefer to sit back, enjoy our cliches, and picture God as a Father who might help us, all the while ignoring God as a Judge who might damn us. Maybe this is why we fill our lives with the constant drivel of entertainment in our culture – and in the church. We are afraid that if we stop and really look at God in His Word, we might discover that He evokes greater awe and demands deeper worship than we are ready to give Him.
- We spurn our Creator’s authority over us….Everything in all creation responds in obedience to the Creator… until we get to you and me. We have the audacity to look God in the face and say, “No.”
- The gospel demands and enables us to turn from our sin, to take up our cross, to die to ourselves, and to follow Jesus. These are the terms and phrases we see in the Bible. And salvation now consists of a deep wrestling in our souls with the sinfulness of our hearts, the depths of our depravity, and the desperation of our need for His grace. Jesus is no longer one to be accepted or invited in but one who is infinitely worthy of our immediate and total surrender.
- As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine ingenuity, imagination, and innovation with skill and hard work. We can earn any degree, start any business, climb any ladder, attain any prize, and achieve any goal. James Truslow Adams, who is credited with coining the phrase “American dream” in 1931, spoke of it as “a dream…in 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.” …But underlying this American dream are a dangerous assumption that, if we are not cautious, we will unknowingly accept and a deadly goal that, if we are not careful, we will ultimately achieve. …While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
- God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in His extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate His power to all who are radically dependent on Him and radically devoted to making much of Him.
- Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only He can accomplish. Yes, we work, we plan, we organize, and we created, but we do it all while we fast, while we pray, and while we constantly confess our need for the provision of God.
- It is the great why of God. God blesses His people with extravagant grace so they might extend His extravagant glory to all peoples on the earth.
- The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make Him – His ways, His salvation, His glory, and His greatness – known among all nations.”
- We have subtly taken ourselves out from under the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, “I’m sorry, I’m just not called to that.” The result is tragic. A majority of individuals supposedly saved from eternal damnation by the gospel are now sitting back and making excuses for not sharing that gospel with the rest of the world.
- We have seen that God blesses us so that His glory might be made know to all nations. But an all-important question remains. How do we make God’s glory known in all nations? If God has given us His grace so that we might take His gospel to the ends of the earth, then how do we do that? …With the task of taking the gospel to the world, He wandered through he streets and byways of Israel looking for a few men. …The megastrategy of Jesus: make disciples.
- Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a command for us to go to others to share the gospel. A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves.
- Disciple making is not about a program or an event but about a relationship.
- We are, by nature, receivers. Even if we have a desire to learn God’s Word, we still listen from a default self-centered mind-set that is always asking, What can I get out of this? But as we have seen, this is unbiblical Christianity. What if we changed the question whenever we gathered to learn God’s Word? What if we began to think, How can I listen to His Word so that I am equipped to teach this Word to others?
- Good intentions, regular worship, and even study of the Bible do not prevent blindness in us. Part of our sinful nature instinctively chooses to see what we want to see and to ignore what we want to ignore. I can live my Christian life and even lead the church while unknowingly overlooking evil.
- So what is the difference between someone who willfully indulges in sexual pleasures while ignoring the Bible on moral purity and someone who willfully indulges in the selfish pursuit of more and more material possessions while ignoring the Bible on caring for the poor? The difference is that one involves a social taboo in the church and the other involves the social norm in the church.
- Wealth is not inherently evil.
- Much error would occur if someone walked away from this chapter thinking that money and possessions are necessarily bad; they are actually good gifts from the hand of God intended for our enjoyment and the spread of His glory.
- That Jesus did not command all His followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom He would issue that command.
- He doesn’t give options for people to consider; He gives commands for people to obey.
- Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according tot he standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?
- There is never going to come a day when I stand before God and He looks at me and says, “I wish you would have kept more for yourself.” I’m confident that God will take care of me. When God tells us to give extravagantly, we can trust Him to do the same in our lives.
- What if we took a serious look at them (those in need) and actually began to adjust our lifestyles for the sake of the gospel among them? What would that look like?
- If people are dying and going to hell without ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste our lives on an American dream.
- The question, therefore, is not “Can we find God’s will?” The question is “Will we obey God’s will?” Will we refuse to sit back and wait for some tingly feeling to go down our spines before we rise up and do what we have already been commanded to do?
- Do we believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following Him?
- We think, If it’s dangerous, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will.
- You will be hated. The reality is that if we really become like Jesus, the world will hate us.
- The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ. Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and routine religion in the church. It is safe there, and the world likes us there. The world likes us when we are pursuing everything they are pursuing, even if we do put a Christian label on it. As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems with this world.
- Jesus reminded His disciples that their safety was not found in the comforts of this world but in the control of a sovereign God over this world. We can rest confident in the fact that nothing will happen to us in this world apart from the gracious will of a sovereign God. Nothing.
- We have settled far too long for “Bible lite,” both as individual Christians and in the community of faith. We have adopted a Christianity consumed with little devotional thoughts from God for the day, supplemented by teaching in the church filled with entertaining stories and trite opinions on how to be a better person and live a better life in the twenty-first century. Meanwhile, we hold the matchless Word of God in our hands, and it demands a superior position in our lives, our families, our small groups, and our churches. If you and I are going to penetrate our culture and the cultures of the world with this gospel, we desperately need minds saturated with God’s Word.
- When God chose to bring salvation to you and me, He did not send gold or silver, cash or check. He sent Himself – the Son. I was convicted for even considering that I should give money instead of actually coming to Sudan. How will I ever show the gospel to the world if all I send is my money? Was I really so shallow as to think that my money is the answer to the needs in the world? If we are going to accomplish the global purpose of God, it will not be primarily through giving our money, as important as that is. It will happen primarily through giving ourselves. This is what the gospel represents, and it’s what the gospel requires.
And while I want to remember the things that I have taken away from this book, I also want to step back and be wise in my application. Are books like this one just the new movement in Christian literature to sell more books? Are they Spirit led or emotionally driven? Because I cannot read these books and not be moved emotionally. But emotion does not equal the Holy Spirit.
I found this post in Matt’s printer tray a few days ago. I’m not sure if it fits here or not. I am including it because I believe that in our efforts to live a “radical” Christianity we may be inclined to abandon traditional church in the name of something more “progressive”, to leave the structure of Sunday morning in our efforts to find social justice. I agree with some of the post. I agree there is a movement in my generation to abandon formal church for something freer, more open, and I agree that it poses its dangers to the believer. I disagree in the sense that we do need visionaries and radicals to spur on those of us who may be content to plod along forever. We all serve our purpose in the Body; but we must be an active part of the Body to serve in the greatest capacity.
I do believe there is truth in the words of David Platt, Francis Chan, and others. If we look at Christ, He does look very different from the average American Christian. There are countless reasons for this, but one significant one is the fact that we have bought into the be more/do more/have more philosophy. I think America is a great nation. I think our Founders were led here by God to begin a great experiment that would lead to a great leap of progress not only in science, medicine, and technology, but also in the spread of His great Name throughout the earth. We, as American Christians, need to give thanks for the great nation we live in, for the freedoms we have, for the prosperity we enjoy. And then we need to use those freedoms and that prosperity, not to make our own lives more comfortable, but to pour ourselves out for others for the sake of the Kingdom.
Lord, help me to consider how to live a radical faith, how to follow hard after your Son. Help me to discern feeling from wisdom, emotion from Spirit moving. Help me to do whatever it takes to do what you have called me to do. For your Kingdom and your glory.