In my last post on the book Radical, I shared David Platt’s convicting thoughts about how many Christians ignore what Jesus said about what it really means to follow Him. Instead, we choose to mold Jesus into a “nice, middle-class, American Jesus . . . who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have” (p. 13). As convicted as I was by these words, I was even more convicted by Platt’s discussion of the result this misunderstanding of true discipleship.
Platt writes: “While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the gospel remain in the dark” (p. 14).
While we are busy accumulating stuff and ensuring our comfort, BILLIONS are perishing apart from Christ. Do we care? Do I care? Do I care about the eternal implications for my family member who doesn’t know Christ? Do I care about the people of Bhutan, a small country between China and India that I read about this morning with my kids, where the government (a Buddhist kingdom) lets very few foreigners inside the country and any Christians who make it in are forbidden to talk about Christ?
If I say I care, do I back it up with actions? With my checkbook? With my prayers?
Another large group of people paying the price for our failure to follow Christ properly are the poor. Platt writes: “Consider the cost when these Christians gather in churches and choose to spend millions of dollars on nice buildings to drive up to, cushioned chairs to sit in, and endless programs to enjoy for themselves. Consider the cost for the starving multitudes who sit outside the gate of contemporary Christian affluence” (p. 15).
Platt writes about two headlines he saw in a Christian publication in 2004. On the cover, the left headline read: “First Baptist Church Celebrates New $23 Million Building.” On the right, the headline read: “Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees” and the article explained that $5,000 had been raised to help refugees in western Sudan. Platt concludes: “Where have we gone wrong? How did we get to the place where this is actually tolerable?” (emphasis mine, p. 16)
This example makes me crazy. What are these people thinking? But then I look at myself. I don’t have $23 million to spend on myself, but if I did, I’m sure I would. If I published the amount of money I spend on myself on one side of the front page and the leftovers I give to the poor on the other side, what would my headlines read? Do my public and private lives honor the Lord Jesus Christ and my commitment to follow Him on His terms? What is the cost of my non-discipleship in the lives of those around me, both near and far?
These are tough questions, and I encourage you to wrestle through them with me by buying this book and reading it. In fact, my bloggy friend Marla is hosting a Radical read-a-long, if you’re interested. I know I can’t wait to hear what others have to say about how God is using this book in their lives.Share
A very challenging post! We are doing a sermon series at church on Money and this is very timely for me. I have also been challenged lately to look at how I spend my time and energy. Comfort and pleasure have become my idols, much as I hate to admit it. So … Some hard thinking to do, and then some more thought and plans to put theory into practice and make some real changes.
Marla Taviano says
I’ve got to stop saying I care without backing it up. Jesus, help me!!
If I published the amount of money I spend on myself on one side of the front page and the leftovers I give to the poor on the other side, what would my headlines read?
Yikes, I cringe at the thought. It’s easy to point the finger at “the other guy” and forget that I am the guilty one. Good intentions don’t get us very far do they?
Glad you’re on this journey too!