And this is what God has shown me: “I have blessed you for my glory. Not so you will have a comfortable life with a big house and a nice car. Not so you can spend lots of money on vacations, education, or clothing. Those aren’t bad things, but I’ve blessed you so that the nations will know me and see my glory.”
It is hard to take a look at your life and your priorities. But in the next three chapters of Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream David Platt continues to outline the problem that Christians have when their lives and their faith are self-centred, and they choose to ignore a world that needs Jesus. The reason that I loved this book so much is that I really do need reminding to fight harder against the culture around me and the elements of worldly culture that have seeped into in the church. I need to be reminded to feel more like an alien in the world and then be given practical ways of making my life line up with what Jesus said rather than what pop culture says.
Platt begins chapter four of Radical with a story about a pastor he met who had told his church that if they didn’t give financial support to a missionary serving in Japan, that he would “pray that God would send their kids to Japan to serve with that missionary.” We may find this shocking, but Platt asks us to question our own attitude to mission. He outlines God’s purpose for humankind: “He created human beings, not only to enjoy his grace in a relationship with him, but also to extend his glory to the ends of the earth. But there is a big problem. Platt sees that American church culture tends to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. So instead of living to extend God’s glory, Christians settle for a faith that focuses on the Me who God loves and forgets about “the global plan of Christ.” But he explains that we are all called to be a part of sharing the gospel with the rest of the world. Whether we stay here or go there we all need to be concerned with mission.
But how? How can we take Jesus to the ends of the earth? Make disciples. Platt says that all Christians are to make disciples, not just the professionals. Go, spend time and build relationships. Welcome them into the family of believers. And at church, don’t just be a receiver, but listen to be equipped to teach others. Instead of going to church to be good, the church goes out and makes disciples.
In chapter six Platt deals with the issue of materialism. He reminds us most of us are actually in the top fifteen percent of the world’s population for wealth. And yet “at most we are throwing our scraps to them while we indulge in our pleasures here.” Ouch. He goes on to clearly and convincingly refute the prosperity gospel. And he also questions how Christians spend their money in relation to church buildings. Do we trust God? God loves us. When we open our eyes and look at the reality of the world’s poor, our priorities will change. Maybe God has given us more, “not so we could have more, but so that we could give more?”
Platt suggests John Wesley as a model for living within our means so that we have an excess to give away. He and his wife have begun doing this, buying a smaller house and using their money to adopt another child. He really does not claim to have all the answers and he does not advocate becoming legalistic. But we have a choice. We can choose to ignore the world’s poor, not wishing to see beyond the statistics. Or we can realise that these are real people created in God’s image and rather than ask ourselves ‘What can I spare?’, ask ‘What will it take to reach the ends of the earth with the Gospel?’