Monday, May 03, 2010

A Review of Radical

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt is a must-read book.

WARNING: This is a challenging book that will turn your world upside down (actually, right side up).
PAY ATTENTION: This is a helpful book that will increase your joy in Jesus.

David Platt calls us to follow the Jesus of the Bible. He warns us against thinking we are worshipping Jesus while really we are worshipping ourselves. He shows us that Jesus is far superior to all the things we clutch onto in this life. He calls us to abandon the Christian spin on the American dream.

Here are a few of the claims Platt makes in 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 in individualism.
-Joy is found in generosity, not materialism.
-Truth is found in Christ, not universalism.

Chapter 3 is golden. Platt pleads with us to stop relying on ourselves and realize our utter need for the power of the Spirit. Most of what we do in our churches could be done without the power of the Spirit. Would we even recognize if the Spirit abandoned us? He calls us to recognize the power of the Spirit and depend on that same power for everything we do.

One of the main points that Platt emphasizes is Jesus’ call to preach the gospel to all nations. He disarms all of our common excuses for not being involved in missions and gives example after example of people who have abandoned the American dream to follow God’s heart. Missions is not something a few people do. We have been given so much by God so that we can be a blessing to the peoples of this earth.

In chapter 6, David Platt challenges the abundant wealth of the American church. He calls our wealth a “blind spot” in our generation. How can we keep so much for ourselves when so many are starving and dying of preventable diseases? We don’t earn salvation by giving to the poor but we prove our salvation by our care for the poor.

Platt ends this book by challenging us to embrace the “radical experiment,” a one year test drive of living totally for Christ. Specifically, there are 5 challenges of the radical experiment: (1) pray for the entire world, (2) read through the entire Word, (3) sacrifice your money for a specific purpose, (4) spend your time in another context, and (5) commit your life to a multiplying community.

I really appreciate Platt’s emphasis on living out these principles in the context of the local church.

Here’s a flavor of what you will find in Radical:

“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 this world. Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship” (pp. 216-217).

You can buy Radical directly from the publisher here (Multnomah provided a copy for me to review).
Or, you can buy it at 34% off here.

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