The book Radical (subtitled Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream) by David Platt, begins with a story of the author's involvement in underground and secret church groups in Asia. Those who are so hungry for the Word of God that they would risk jail, beatings, death, loss of family, and loss of all that they own. They meet in remote locations without comfortable chairs, air conditioning, lighting, music, showmanship, snacks, clean restrooms, and all the frill and extras of the church experience that we have come to know and expect and even take for granted. But what about us? How long would we hang around if all of the trappings were stripped away from our worship experience? Would the Word be sufficient for us and engaging enough and important for us to stick around? An important question.
The first half of this book is simply masterful in highlighting the American church experience and expectation as soft, Christian-lite material. Most of us would surely melt away if there was an ounce of persecution or inconvenience in our worship experience. Platt probes our complacency with the question, "Now that you have heard the gospel, what is a proper response?". Is it just going to church each Sunday and checking off that box as "done"? Is it giving our money to the church, even at the level of commitment of a tithe and feeling satisfied? Is it even volunteering for the church or taking part in a church bible study group or consistently kneeling down in prayer? His answer is that this falls far short of what Jesus has commanded us to do. Platt tell us that the gospel of our Christian faith must evoke unconditional surrender of all that we are and all that we have to all that He is. It is living a radical life for Jesus. Platt states, and rightly so, that "scores of people have positioned themselves on a religious road that makes grandiose promises at minimal cost." Man, this is the good stuff. This is no feel good rah-rah, live for grand blessings in this earthly life rubbish. But lo, this is the stuff that should leave us feeling convicted and yearning to reach out, even if it is beyond our own personal comfort zone to make His name known to all.
About two-thirds of the way into this work, Platt takes a bit of a dangerous turn that likely will alienate many folks. He makes the worrisome claim that if we don't "radically" support world missions then we are likely not truly Christians at heart. His point is that nearly 4 billion people on this planet are disconnected from God, and of this number, roughly 1 billion have never even been introduced to Jesus. For me personally, I truly believe that not all are called to the same cause. Some give of themselves in their local communities, and some from the comfort of their homes. I understand his passion for his calling, but one must be open to the gifts that each of us brings to spread the Word. But if you don't discredit him for his, perhaps, overly zealous charge regarding world missions, I think that this book is a real jewel and has much to teach us about living radically for God.