Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (David Platt)

David Platt has thrown down the gauntlet to materialistic American Christians. American Christians who are among the wealthiest people in the world, who spend jillions of dollars on luxuries and worry about keeping up with the Joneses while millions of people starve to death every day, and most of those are going to Hell without knowledge or believe in Jesus Christ. He writes of his own experiences in some of the darkest places in our world today, and of people he met who go to great lengths just to read, hear, and be taught from the Bible. He also shares about friends within his church family who have had the same experiences, and of the steps some of them have taken to share their material possessions and their faith with people of this world who need them. This book is the best sermon I've ever read, and it will leave every reader with a jolt (not a stir) to immediate action.

The structure of the book is sheer genius. Platt begins with reminding us who Jesus is and that an obedient life of following Him can only be one of reckless abandon. "For when we abandon the trinkets of this world and respond to the radical invitation of Jesus, we discover the infinite treasure of knowing and experiencing Him." (pg. 18) He goes on to explain that the context of the American Dream is to depend on yourself alone for success. "As long as we achieve anything in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory." (pg. 46) That American Dream is also clearly present in the church community. "We have convinced ourselves that if we can position our resources and organize our strategies, then in church as in every other sphere of life, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to." (pg. 50) We are relying on ourselves, and that is probably why there are billions of people starving and hurting every day.

He writes about people in our churches, in our towns and cities, and across the world who are struggling to survive, and we could feed an entire family for a day or more on what we spend on a sack of french fries. He challenges us not to feel guilty for what we have, but to reconsider that maybe we have so that we can give.

I could not help but remember throughout this book that, regardless what many if not most Americans (especially here in the shiny gold buckle of the Bible Belt) believe, Jesus Christ was not a middle class white Republican. He lived for and among the most impoverished, most broken, most needy people of the world. He cared about and worked to actively serve those who had desperate physical needs, and He told us to do the very same. And not only that, His last words to us were not to sit on our hands in our multi-million dollar church buildings and hope people will come and hear about the gospel. He told us to GO and TELL.

Among the several other practical suggestions for revolutionizing the way we live to serve the poor and hungry in our world, there are steps Platt lays out for the reader to undergo the Radical Experiment. He is saying that maybe some aren't so sure about how this life will work, so he calls readers to give it one good try. One year of:

1. praying for the entire world "In a world where more than 4.5 billion people are without Christ and more than a billion on the edge of starvation, we have to begin somewhere."
"The multitudes are waiting to hear, and our most urgent need is to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out Christians into the harvest field." (pg. 186-187)

2. reading through the entire Bible "If we want to know the glory of God, if we want to experience the beauty of God, and if we want to be used by the hand of God, then we must live in the Word of God." (pg. 192)

3. sacrificing money for a specific purpose "Our hearts follow our money...sacrifice every possible dollar in order to spend your life radically on specific, urgent spiritual and physical needs of the world."(pgs. 193 and 196)

4. spending time in another context "If we are going to accomplish the global purpose of God...it will happen primarily through giving ourselves. This is what the gospel represents, and it's what the gospel requires." (pg. 198)
"...Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." (pg. 139)

5. and committing to a multiplying community "We will need to show one another [in the local church] how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously." (pg. 206)

 All of this can be carried out however that practically looks in your individual family's life. One year of this radical life will likely lead to a lifetime of reckless abandon to Jesus Christ.

Do you see what I mean? It is impossible to read these 200 pages and not be overcome with the desire to do something, anything to get out of our selfish little materialistic bubbles and start giving of our resources and ourselves to those who need it for the ultimate glory of God.