Sometimes you just want to sit in your rocking chair and sometimes God put someone in your path to rock your world. Recently, some young adults talked with me about a study that was rocking their world based on David Platt's book RADICAL: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. I acquired a copy to check out their excitement and nearly fell out of my Kennedy rocker.
Each of the opening chapters of RADICAL begin with a powerful story out of Platt's experiences among populations under severe persecution. He reflects on the contrast between their hunger for God's word and the typical person sitting and soaking in the pews of American churches. Platt lays it on the line as he described a weekend visit with a church that spent more time celebrating their American patriotism and promising "we will continue to send you a check so that we don't have to go there ourselves" (63). A page later Platt sums up his frustration with this bold claim: "God has created each of us to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and I propose that anything less than radical devotion to this purpose in unbiblical Christianity" (65).
This unbiblical Christianity, an oxymoron if there ever was one, is characterized by "assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity of us all" with a dismissive "I'm not called" from the pews (73, emphasis in original). The privilege of "enjoying God's grace" must be coupled with the obligation to "extend God's glory" and anything less is what Bonhoeffer called cheap grace. The balance of RADICAL reminds us of our grounding as Christians and posits an urgency for fulfilling the great commandment to carry the message of God's love made known in Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.
Platt closes RADICAL with a challenging experiment. For one year would we commit ourselves to: praying for the entire world, read through the entire Word, sacrifice our money for a specific purpose, spend a week in another context, and commit ourselves to being part of a multiplying community of faith. Platt labels this radical obedience and the claim made on our lives by Jesus demands singular devotion to this mission.
I admit to approaching the book with some skepticism. Over the last two decades I purchased numerous books that promised to change my thinking about the church, grow my spiritual leadership, or show how my theology was out of sync. Most of the time those books made it to the used book store within weeks. By the time my copy of RADICAL makes it to the used book store I hope it will have passed through numerous hands ... buy this book, settle into your rocker, and be prepared to bolt out of it into a RADICAL life devoted to God's soon-coming kingdom.