Summarized and Recommended by Martha Ming
Before beginning his pastorate in Alabama, David Platt had been impacted by the attitudes he saw among Christian believers in secret Asian house churches–attitudes of “Thank you, Jesus; we need you, Jesus; Jesus, we give our lives to you and for you; Jesus, we trust you”. Platt asks readers to examine for themselves the two questions this exposure caused him to face in deciding his direction as a pastor–first, am I going to believe Jesus and second, am I going to obey Jesus?
Jesus’ call to followers in the gospels was a call to become homeless, to let someone else bury your dead, to leave without saying good-bye and to carry your cross. If we don’t accept the call to this kind of radical discipleship the cost will be life for the lost and the poor, and (based on the story of the rich young man) the cost to ourselves will be the loss of treasure in heaven. Do we believe Jesus is worth the cost?
As we accept Christ’s call we hunger for God’s Word and we find his Word is sufficient. It reveals realities about God and about ourselves and that we are radically dependent on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The call to take up your cross is a call to ordinary Christians. The one who is extraordinary is God. If the whole gospel is, “God loves me and sent His Son to die for me”, then Christianity focuses on me. But in biblical Christianity, God’s love for me is so that I may make His salvation, and His greatness known to all nations for His glory. The end of the gospel is not me but God.
“God creates, blesses, and saves each of us for a radically global purpose.” As disciples we spend our lives for the sake of the gospel instead of for the sake of the American dream. We are challenged to find ways of living out that mission as churches. Our ministry focus becomes making disciples to change the world and discipling Christians not to be receivers but to be reproducers. This is an invitation to a slow, intentional, time-intensive discipleship; an invitation to come give life away along with us.
In Luke 12, the man who built bigger barns to store his wealth was foolish. We are not to worry about our needs; God will not only supply our needs but will also give us the kingdom. So we begin to ask, how much is enough? We don’t ask, “What can I spare?”, but “What will it take?”
God’s Word teaches us that all have sinned and that salvation is only found in Christ. Time is short. We are commissioned to make disciples so we risk everything–possessions, security and our lives–to take the gospel to the unreached because we are radically abandoned to Jesus. The reward Jesus offers doesn’t look like the American dream—it is the reward of His loving presence while we give our lives for Him. This commitment is so radical that Paul wrote that to die is gain. How so?—to die is to finally be with Christ in His eternal kingdom.
As a practical way of beginning to live as radically committed disciples of Christ, Platt proposes for individuals and churches to commit for one year to “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
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community
It seems little enough if we have answered yes to the initial questions—yes, I will believe Jesus and yes, I will obey Him.
Platt, David. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. 1st ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2010.