Friday, April 15, 2011

Pastor's Bookshelf: Radical by David Platt

Radical is an insightful look at what Christianity is, as defined by Scripture, verses what Christianity has become, particularly in America.  Platt uses several texts to show that what God has called us to as believers is not always in line with the American version of Christianity.  For example, in America we tend to judge a church at face value... a big church with lots of people, programs, and buildings = strong and healthy and Biblical verses a small church with few people, little money, small building = weaker church with no hope

Now, let me say from the top.  None of the above conditions of either church have any bearing on its health or soundness of its doctrine.  There are large churches (though few in number) that are sound doctrinally and pursuing a life of obedience to Jesus Christ.  Likewise, there are small churches that are sound doctrinally and pursuing a life of obedience to Jesus Christ.  Size doesn't automatically indicate a particular feature, neither do lack or abundance of programs, funds and buildings indicate a particular feature.

Platt seeks to point out that the goal of the church is to take the Gospel to the world and also to serve others.  Using the resources (financial or otherwise) that God has given them for the purpose of the furtherance of the Gospel, NOT to acquire more and more wealth.  The goal of God blessing us with money for instance is not so that we can store it up and be mega-wealthy consumer driven people, but so that we are people who live according to what we need and find a way to use the rest to give Bibles, or tracts, or food, or clothing, or shelter, etc... to all who need it.

To say the least, I was heavily challenged by the Scripture that David brought to light in this book and it has brought about some very deep examination and convictions in my own life.  To avoid boasting in myself, I'll just leave it at that.

Lastly, there were a few things I didn't particularly like about the book.  David does a fantastic job of exegeting the Scriptures he uses to make his point, that is good!  Intermingled with that, however, he uses illustrations from real life.  People he knows, has encountered, or that are in his church, who have abandoned worldly things for the glory of Christ.  To hear of those people is encouraging and a great example set.  And that was his purpose in putting them in their too... however, I could have done with fewer of them and still gotten the point.

I believe he was going to the extreme to show the diversity that exists amongst the callings God places on our lives.  How one person's call may look a bit differently than another.  He made a point to say that very thing.  That this person's "thing" may not be another's "thing".  But the book would have made the point just as well with a more brief story on each of them or just fewer in general.  That's a preference of mine personally that when I read any book that is going to convey Scriptural truths, I'd rather hear more about the Scripture and less about a personal experience, but that's just me.

Read it, Bible open as always, pray about it... and see if God doesn't use this book to challenge you as well to evaluate what you do with what He's given you.  Are you using it to His glory, or your own?

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