Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Let’s Get Radical, Part I

Posted by flyingbk on 09/22/2010

Before my book review… RIP, Mike Celizic. I remember looking forward to reading The Bergen Record’s sports section as an acne-riddled teenager who had just moved to the foreign and intimidating confines of Bergen County. It was your columns and head shots (and Bill Pennington’s) that I looked forward to devouring and glancing, respectively, each day. It is not a stretch to say that your writing was a stepping stone that led me to work at your employer, oh, about seven years later.

Now, let’s get Radical.

I read most of this book while flying to the freshly sued International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and actually finished it in the prayer room. I had heard about this book through Christian circles, but it was David Brooks’ column in the New York Times that actually persuaded me to take it out from my local library. And I am really glad that I did.

Even before I began reading, I had been struggling with what the Christian life is all about. Let’s face it: In America today, it is just way too easy to be a lukewarm, materialistic, uber-comfortable, and yes, a carnal Christian. But of course, I know that being a believer is much more than securing fire insurance and a nonrefundable ticket to heaven; I just didn’t know how to verbalize what’s asked of me. So this book came along at just the right time for me.

Platt writes about the kind of Jesus that many in America serve:
A nice, middle-class, American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closest relationships so that he receives all our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, he loves us just the way we are.

Then he drops the bomb:
The cost of not taking Jesus seriously is vast for those who don’t know Christ and devastating for those who are starving and suffering around the world.

I admit, that in the past, I may have resisted such words. “Who are you to sound such a vociferous alarm? Talk about being a Chicken Little!” But I’m tired of being jaded, and it’s time to be wholehearted. I am thankful for how this book pulls no punches regarding what Jesus really asked of his followers, and the high calling of noble sacrifice that has been divinely entrusted to the church.

Platt writes how there are two main charges directed at the children of God: to enjoy his grace, and to extend his glory. I have no problem living out the first, but I’ve noticed that we can get spiritually obese if there is no application of the second. Quoting Platt: We are not the end of His grace. We are not the center of His universe. God is at the center of His universe, and everything He does ultimately revolves around Him. May we always remember that it’s not about us!

But before he issues a clarion call to everyone who reads, Platt properly sets it up with a robust rendering of the gospel.
He spends the first half focusing on what the gospel is truly about, and he is punctilious about dismantling myths (i.e. universalism, and how those who don’t hear the gospel automatically go to heaven). He does well to mix in a plethora of personal experiences, and those of his flock at his church in Birmingham, Alabama.

I’ll end this section with one of my favorite illustrations from the book. In 1952, construction on a $80 million Navy troop carrier was completed. In 1952, construction on a $80 million Naval troop carrier was complete. At the time, there was nothing like it: The ship could outrun any other and travel nonstop anywhere in the world in less than 10 days. But she never actually carried troops. Eventually it became a luxury liner for the pleasure of presidents, heads of state, and other celebrities for 17 years. The S.S. United States was designed for battle, and yet it was only used as a place of material enjoyment. Platt concludes, The purpose of the church is to mobilize a people to accomplish a mission. Yet we seem to have turned the church as troop carrier into the church as luxury liner. We seem to have organized ourselves, not to engage in battle for the souls of peoples around the world, but to indulge ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world.

Ouch. But it’s true, no? Part II tomorrow, when I look closer at what Platt is specifically calling each of us to do. If you don’t want to wait, you can read about it here (spoiler alert!).

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One Response to “Let’s Get Radical, Part I”

  1. […] Radical by David Platt. This book was also reviewed by me (in two parts). Here’s Part I and Part II. This is definitely one of those books that I need to read over and apply in my life. […]

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