I am still reacting to this David Platt’s book ‘Radical’; Here is a trailer for his book:
I actually want to think through the points in this trailer point by point. This is a strong and popular message and I think it deserves a more serious treatment than my last post.
“The Mantra of the American Dream is to advance yourself. With hard work, ingenuity, innovation, you can have it all.”
So, hard work and ingenuity are constrained to America, and they are evil? Jesus only wants the lazy and stupid? I guess we can simply throw out the book of Proverbs. Here is a verse I chose from there pretty much at random:
“Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4, NASB.
That doesn’t seem peculiarly American to me. It seems like a principle which is true of all humanity. I think it is laudable that people work hard, work smart, innovate, and prosper. Who is going to support the church, feed the starving masses, etc. except the prosperous? What if no one was a farmer? What would there be to actually GIVE to the poor? If everyone did what he advocates, how could society go forward? Is it true that the only work that is laudable is full time ministry to the poor? Is that Jesus’ ultimate calling? Are mercy gifts the only truly sanctioned gifts? I seriously doubt this.
Is this really the American Dream, that with hard work you can “have it all?” I know I don’t personally know anyone who thinks that way. I think a lot of people work hard so they can put food on the table, a roof over their head, and support their family. Everyone I know is always concerned about whether they will be able to continue to make ends meet. If you don’t have a car in this society you can’t work, you can’t buy groceries, you can’t do much of anything. It just works like that, it is set up that way.
“The frightening reality of the gospel is, Jesus does call us to give up everything we have.”
The ‘gospel’ message is that we are to give up everything? That’s the good news? Imagine the following conversation:
Joe: I have some really great news for you!
Sally: Really? Great! What is it?
Joe: Give up everything, sell all you have and give to the poor. Get rid of your car, your house, everything. Stop innovating and working hard.
Sally: What? How the hell is that good news? Are you insane?
Yes, Mr. Platt and his ilk ARE insane, because this is not good news, nor is it the gospel.
Of course this begs the question, what IS the gospel? How about this:
“”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 3:16, 17, NASB.
“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;” Romans 3:21-25, NASB.
“And he may tell anyone of us to sell all of our possessions and give them to the poor. But we don’t believe this.”
He may, and He may not. Either way is service. You know what? We sold our house at a loss because we don’t want to be tied down, and we are in the process of selling off many other things, so we can be more free to be available to the Lord’s call. Right now I am actually called to work and have a house for our family. I would rather leave it all behind and travel around preaching and teaching, but that would be wrong at this juncture. Look at this:
“And as He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was entreating Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He *said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone marveled.” Mark 5:18-20, NASB.
So, Jesus calls each of us to take up our cross daily, but it is up to the Holy Spirit to direct the shape that takes each day. Every person has their cross, it is their dignity. We do not need a screaming preacher heaping guilt upon us.
Now, it is true that Jesus may call us to something like Mr. Platt is saying. However, the flavor of the true milk of the word is kindness:
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” 1 Peter 2:1-3, NASB.
The Lord calls us to joy, not forced sullen guilt-driven sacrifice. The demeanor of this message can only kill, it cannot lead to true sustainable ministry. The treasure finder went and sold everything he had FROM JOY OVER IT:
“”The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44, NASB.
When I really do get called to do this, it will not be because an angry preacher brow-beats me into some kind of sick submission to poverty. It will be because I am released from my current servitude into greater service, and I am looking forward to the shape that might take. Shame on you for making Jesus’ calling so ugly Mr. Platt! You are like a Christian shock jock, saying extreme things in order to gain an audience and influence.
“If we form Jesus to look like us and be who we want Him to be, then even when we gather together and sing our praises and lift our hands, the reality is we are not worshiping the Jesus of the Bible, we are worshiping and singing to ourselves.”
This particular quote is really too much. Who among us is willing to interject ourselves and our insights into the holy place of the worship of the saints? The Jesus who is not an idol LOVES US, DIED FOR US, FORGIVES US, and is our ULTIMATE REST. I will tell you this – you go ahead and sing your praises and raise your hands, regardless of your current place in life. His kindness will show you what you must do in the fulness of time. Do not bow to the condemning voice of radical attention-grabbing pharisaical preachers like this. The Lord sees your struggles, your hardships, your disappointments, your pain, your sin. He loves you. He welcomes you. His throne is a throne of grace. The gospel saves, it does not condemn, it does not push you away from worship. Worship is the place where you get transformed, how else is He going to inspire you to greater service?