Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Radical" by David Platt

 I tend to steer away from the trendy and popular books. I think that all too often they are full of fluff and people are hoping to get a quick fix from them - which is never the case and which is why another trendy book keeps popping up for us to spend our money on. Then I received a copy of Radical by David Platt.

Several close friends had mentioned it as life changing and thought provoking. I rolled my eyes. Then I started reading it with a pen in hand. I wrote notes in the margins, underlined phrases and basically gulped down the book in the matter of a couple of days.  His desire is clear - for all people in the world to hear about Christ.  As the pastor of a mega-church, he admits that he is living a life contrary to what he is teaching, but also talks about ways he is changing his current life-style. 

Platt begins by asking us if we are going to believe Jesus and if we are going to obey Jesus.  Are we defining our lives by the bible or by our culture's interpretation of what the bible says?  Platt describes visits to China where Christians risk friends, family and life to study and worship together - and they do it gladly!  Here in America, we get annoyed if the pastor runs five minutes over and we have to wait at our favorite restaurant for a table.  Jesus called his followers to abandon everything. EVERYTHING! To follow him.  Platt challenges us to do that today ... if we can. if we dare.

One striking illustration was from a denomination newsletter where there was an article about a 23 million dollar new building dedication alongside an article about donations that were raised to help refugees in Sudan - a grand total of 5 thousand dollars.  How does that make any sense???

Platt contends that we have watered down the gospel to fit our lifestyles.  He states, "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 that we are ready to give him."  Throughout the gospel, Jesus is helping others and teaching his followers how to help others. Platt emphasizes that this isn't about simply sending a check. It is about prayer and being there.

As the pastor of a megachurch - he clearly recognizes the danger of these churches to become entertainment for people. A place to lost in the crowd. To come, sit listen, check it off your list and go home.  But he also knows that authentic faith can come from any church. Jesus built his ministry in a group of 12 men. Any church can grow disciples in small groups and send them out to multiply into more groups and keep going.

Much of the book is focused on the fact that we need to minister more to the poor of the world. Yes- we need to minister to the poor in our local area too, but there are 1.5 billion (yes - that's a B) unreached people in the world and over 26,000 children die every day from preventable causes.  We can help. We have the time, the resources to help. But we need to change our hearts. 

There is a lot of repetition in the book and just plain practical advice.  Things we Christians in America need to wake up to.  He closes the book with a challenge to live radically for one year. He stresses not to make it longer than that, because it will be too hard and at times impossible. If we can do it for one year the impact we make can still be amazing. It is an interesting concept. One I am willing to learn more about and study more on my own. His strategies are practical. He begins with prayer and reading the bible.  Then asks people to live sacrificially - do we really need the newest gadget? to eat out so often? the trendiest clothes?  He also asks people to live in a different context (ie different continent) for one week helping people there. And then to help train disciples and 'multiply community.'  All things we are commanded to do in the new testament anyway.

I will recommend this book to others. It can be an eye opener or simply a refresher. In fact, I am passing on my copy to my pastor - not that he needs an eye opener or a refresher, but I think he will like that fact that much of what he teaches us is reiterated in Radical.

"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review"

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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