Friday, July 09, 2010

Radical Plodding

There has been something of a debate between 2 popular author/speakers in the Reformed world over the nature of the "faithful" Christian life.

David Platt has a radical message about giving ourselves to God's global purposes, spending less on ourselves, and doing the hard thing.
Kevin DeYoung has called us to a patient life of plodding along the path of love for the local church.

The "debate" is publicly contained in a review that DeYoung wrote of Platt's book, Radical. You can read the review and Platt's response here.

I have tremendous respect for both Platt and DeYoung. God has used them both to help me in my pursuit to be faithful to Him. They are both examples of the kind of pastor and man I long to be. And, I don't think their message is all that different. Given the opportunity to sit under each of their ministries, I don't think their disagreement is very deep. I think they both contribute to a picture of what it means to live pleasing to God. Let me try to explain.

Here is the particular paragraph in DeYoung's review that I am addressing:
"I don’t worry for David’s theology, but I worry that some young Christians reading his book might walk away wondering if a life spent working as a loan officer, tithing to their church, praying for their kids, learning to love Christ more, and serving in the Sunday school could possibly be pleasing to God. We need to find a way to attack the American dream while still allowing for differing vocations and that sort of ordinary Christian life that can plod along for fifty years. I imagine David wants this same thing. I’m just not sure this came through consistently in the book."

First of all, Platt never says that the kind of life described by DeYoung is displeasing to God. This is totally an assumption that DeYoung is concerned may come across to someone reading Radical. Platt is simply calling this figurative loan officer to care about and get involved in missions and ministry to the poor. He never says every Christian has to be a missionary (just that all Christians should be involved in and concerned with missions whatever their vocation). He never says every Christian has to give everything they own to feed the poor (just that Jesus may indeed call some of us to do so).

As I read the Bible as a whole, here is what I see: We are indeed to live radically for Christ. I'm concerned that DeYoung does not adequately deal with the clear Biblical teaching to be willing to give up everything to follow Christ. But, we are not just called to do radical things and leave it at that. We are called to live consistently radical lives, plodding along in faithfulness and growth in what God has called us to do.

So, here is the question I think we have to ask ourselves: Is the trajectory of my life radical in devotion to the cause of Jesus? Am I using my life, my resources, my energies in the worship of God and the spread of His fame?
-If not, then no matter what we do, we will waste our lives.
-If yes, then we need to persevere and press on and plod along in faithfulness in that devotion (whether a loan officer or a foreign missionary).

Plodding along, by itself, is not pleasing to God.
Doing something radical, by itself, is not pleasing to God.

The life that pleases God is the life of radical plodding for the glory of God.


Pastor Dan Rolfe said...

Good thoughts and very balanced. I do think that too many in the church mistakingly believe that only "radical" (foreign missions in a hut, give all my money away, vow of poverty) Christianity is exciting and spiritual, but "ordinary" (go to church, serve as an usher, man the resource table) Christianity is boring and non-spiritual.

BoldLion said...

Excellent post, Justin! I am still looking forward to read Radial.

We all need to live our life that is pleasing to God no matter what is our calling on this earth. We all are called to live our life that is pleasing to God and to share the gospel to others no matter where we are.

If we were all called to give up the life in America and to go oversea, then who will share the gospel to others here in America.

Hungry to eat His Word,
'Guerite ~ BoldLion

Nicole said...

Good summary! I've not read Platt, only a small part of DeYoung. This will be cause for good discussion! Thanks friend!