Quotes from Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream
Quotes from Radical Taking back your faith from the American Dream
By David Platt; Compilation by Stacey Tuttle
Someone Worth Losing Everything For
What radical abandonment to Jesus really means
I found myself becoming uneasy [as a megachurch pastor]. For one thing, my model in ministry is a guy who spent the majority of his ministry time with twelve men… More like a minichurch, really.
[David Platt—] the youngest megachurch pastor in history…. Jesus Christ—the youngest minichurch pastor in history. 
How was I to reconcile the fact that I was now pasturing thousands of people with the fact that I was now pastoring thousands of people with the fact that my greatest example in ministry was known for turning away thousands of people?
Soon I realized I was on a collision course with an American church culture where success is defined by bigger crowds, bigger budgets, and bigger buildings. I was now confronted with a startling reality: Jesus actually spurned the things that my church culture said were most important.
I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what is radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable. We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
[Jesus] was simply and boldly making it clear from the start that if you follow him, you abandon everything—your needs, your desires, even your family.
Consider Mark 10, another time a potential follower showed up. Here was a guy who was young, rich, intelligent, and influential. He was a prime prospect, to say the least. Not only that, but he was eager and ready to go….If we were in Jesus’ shoes, we probably would be thinking this is our chance. A simple “Pray this pray, sign this card, bow your head, and repeat after me,” and this guy is in. Think about what a guy like this with all his influence and prestige can do.… He can start sharing his testimony, signing books, raising money for the cause. This one is a no-brainer – we have to get him in…. [But,] Jesus committed the classic blunder of letting the big fish get away.
Ultimately, Jesus was calling [followers] to abandon themselves. They were leaving certainty for uncertainty, safety for danger, self-preservation for self-denunciation. In a world that prizes promoting oneself, they were following a teacher who told them to crucify themselves.
We are starting to redefine Christianity. We are giving in to the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with.
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 he way we are. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that mater, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American dream….
He is beginning to look a lot like us because, after all, that is whom we are most comfortable with. And the danger now is that when we gather in our church buildings to sing and lift up our hands in worship, we may not actually be worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. Instead we may be worshipping ourselves.
Wake up. Wake up and realize that there are infinitely more important things in your life than football and a 401(k). Wake up and realize there are real battles to be fought, so different from the superficial, meaningless “battles” you focus on. Wake up to the countless multitudes who are currently designed for a Christless eternity.
Consider the cost when Christians ignore Jesus’ commands to sell their possessions and give to the poor and instead choose to spend their resources on better comforts, larger homes, nicer cars, and more stuff. Consider the cost when these Christians gather in churches and choose to spend millions of dollars on nice buildings to drive up to, cushioned chairs to sit in, and endless programs to enjoy for themselves. Consider the cost for the starving multitudes who sit outside the gate of contemporary Christian affluence.
Yes, you are abandoning everything you have, but you are also gaining more than you could have in any other way. So with joy—with joy!—you sell it all, you abandon it all. Why? Because you have found something worth losing everything else for.
Too Hungry for Words
Discovering the Truth and Beauty of the Gospel
What if we took away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What is the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What is the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would his Word still be enough for his people to come together?
In the American dream, where self reigns as king (or queen), we have a dangerous tendency to misunderstand, minimize, and even manipulate the gospel in order to accommodate our assumptions and our desires. As a result, we desperately need to explore how much of our understanding of the gospel is American and how much is biblical. And in the process we need to examine whether we have misconstrued a proper response to the gospel and maybe even missed the primary reward of the gospel, which is God himself.
We prefer to sit back, enjoy our clichés, and picture God as a Father who might help us, all the while ignoring God as a Judge who might damn us. Maybe this is why we fill our lives with the constant drivel of entertainment in our culture—and in the church. We are afraid that if we stop and really look at God in his Word, we might discover that he evokes greater awe and demands deeper worship than we are ready to give him.
We live in a land of self-improvement. Certainly there are steps we can take to make ourselves better. So we modify what the gospel says about us.
We are not evil, we think, and certainly not spiritually dead. Haven’t you heard of the power of positive thinking? I can become a better me and experience my best life now. That’s why God is there, to make that happen. My life is not going right, but God loves me and has a plan to fix my life. I simply need to follow certain steps, think certain things, and check off certain boxes, and then I am good.
Both our diagnosis of the situation and our conclusion regarding the solution fit nicely in a culture that exalts self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and self-confidence. We already have a fairly high view of our morality, so when we add a superstitious prayer, a subsequent dose of church attendance, and obedience to some of the Bible, we feel pretty sure that we will be all right in the end.
Our understanding of who God is and who we are drastically affects our understanding of who Christ is and why we need him.
Our attempt to reduce this gospel to a shrink-wrapped presentation that persuades someone to say or pray the right things back to us no longer seems appropriate.
That is why none of these man-made catch phrases are in the Bible. You will not find a verse in Scripture where people are told to “bow your heads, close your eyes, and repeat after me.” You will not find a place where a superstitious sinner’s prayer is even mentioned. And you will not find an emphasis on accepting Jesus. We have taken the infinitely glorious Son of God, who endured the infinitely terrible wrath of God and who now reigns as the infinitely worthy Lord of all, and we have reduced him to a poor, puny Savior who is just begging for us to accept him.
Accept him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance? Don’t we need him?
I invite you to consider with me a proper response to this gospel. Surely more than praying a prayer is involved. Surely more than religious attendance is warranted. Surely this gospel evokes unconditional surrender of all that we are and all that we have to all that he is.
Jesus is no longer one to be accepted or invited in but one who is infinitely worthy of our immediate and total surrender.
We want him so much that we abandon everything else to experience him. This is the only proper response to the revelation of God in the gospel.
I pray that we will be a people who refuse to gorge our spiritual stomachs on the entertaining pleasures of this world, because we have chosen to find our satisfaction in the eternal treasure of his Word.
A college student writes, “I’m at a point now where if preachers can’t come up with something other than inspirational speeches, then maybe they should just read from the Word for their sermon. The Spirit is good to work with just that.”
Beginning at the End of Ourselves
The Importance of Relying on God’s Power
The question for us…is whether we trust in his power. And the problem for us is that in our culture we are tempted at every turn to trust in our own power instead. So the challenge for us is to live in such a way that we are radically dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide.
As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish. There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine ingenuity, imagination, and innovation with skill and hard work…. But…the dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability…. Even more important is the subtly fatal goal we will achieve when we pursue the American dream. As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory… This, after all, is the goal of the American dream; to make much of ourselves. But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other. While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
In direct contradiction to the American dream, God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him.
I am part of a system that has created a whole host of means and methods, plans and strategies for doing church that require little if any power from God…. I am concerned that all of us—pastors and church members in our culture—have blindly embraced an American dream mentality that emphasizes our abilities and exalts our names in the ways we do church.
The reality is that the church I lead can accomplish more during the next month in the power of God’s Spirit that we can in the next hundred years apart from his provision. His power is so superior to ours. Why do we not desperately seek it?
What is God in all his might is simply waiting to show his power in a people who turn their backs on a philosophy of life that exalts their supposed ability to do anything they want and who instead confess their desperate need for him? What if God in all his grace is radically committed to showing himself strong on behalf of a people who express their need for him so their lives might make much of him?
[Re: George Muller, 1805-98, who cared for more than ten thousand orphans in England] Remarkably, and intentionally, he never asked for money or other resources to provide for these orphans. Instead he simply prayed and trusted God to provide. …I was shocked to learn why he started the orphanage. His primary purpose was not to care for orphans. …Muller decided that he wanted to live in such a way that it would be evident to tall who looked at his life—Christian and non-Christian alike—that God is indeed faithful to provide for his people. He risked his life trusting in the greatness of God, and in the end his life made much of the glory of God.
We ask God for gifts in prayer, and he gives us the Giver. We ask God for supply, and he gives us the Source. We ask God for money, and he doesn’t give us cash, instead, so to speak, he gives us the bank!…He delights in giving us himself. He puts his very power in us so we might have all we need to accomplish his purposes in this world.
It is a rock-solid promise that the resources of heaven are ready and waiting for the people of God who desire to make much of him in this world. For the people of God who long to see his power at work and who live to see his purposes accomplished, he will give us absolutely everything we need according to his very presence alive in us.
It is the way of Christ. Instead of asserting ourselves, we crucify ourselves. Instead of imagining all the things we can accomplish, we ask God to do what only he can accomplish…. Instead of dependence on ourselves, we express radical desperation for the power of his Spirit, and we trust that Jesus stands ready to give us everything we ask for so that he might make much of our Father in the world.
We were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of his Spirit.
The Great Why of God
God’s Global Purpose from the Beginning till Today
How many of us are embracing the comforts of suburban American while we turn a deaf ear to inner cities in need of the gospel? How many of us are so settled in the United States that we have never once given serious thought to the possibility that God may call us to live in another country? How often are we willing to give a check to someone else as long as we don’t have to go to the tough places in the world ourselves? How many of us parents are praying that God will raise up our children to leave our homes and go overseas, even if that means they may never come back? And how many of us are devoting our lives to taking the gospel to people in hostile regions around the world where Christians are not welcomed? Certainly few of us would be so bold as to say we “would just as soon God annihilate all those people and send them to hell,” [as a pastor had told Platt] but if we do not take the gospel to them, isn’t that where they will go?
Meanwhile, Jesus commands us to go. He 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 is unbiblical Christianity.
God gave his people his image for a reason –so that they might multiply his image throughout the world. 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.
God blesses Abraham abundantly but not ultimately for Abraham’s sake. He blesses Abraham so that Abraham might be the conduit of God’s blessing to all the peoples of the earth.
God goes so far as to say that when he acts among his people, he doesn’t show his grace, mercy, and justice for their sake but for the sake of his own holy name among the nations.
In the beginning of earthly history, God’s purpose was to bless his people so that all peoples would glorify him for his salvation. Now, at the end, God’s purpose is fulfilled. Individuals from every nation, tribe, people, and language are bowing down around the throne of God and singing praises to the one who has blessed them with salvation. This is the final, ultimate, all-consuming, glorious, guaranteed, overwhelmingly global purpose of God in Scripture. It is the great why of God. God blesses his people with extravagant grace so they might extend his extravagant glory to all peoples on the earth.
If “God loves me” is the message of Christianity, then who is the object of Christianity?
God loves me.
Christianity’s object is me.
Therefore when I look for a church, I look for the music that best fits me and the programs that best cater to me and my family. When I make plans for my life and career, it is about what works best for me and my family. When I consider the house I will live in, the car I will drive, the clothes I will wear, the way I will live, I will choose according to what is best for me. This is the version of Christianity that largely prevails in our culture.
The message of biblical Christianity is not “God loves me, period,” as if we were the object of our own faith. The message of biblical Christianity is “God loves me so that I might make him—his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness—known among all nations.” Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is.
At the very moment God exalted someone or something else, he would no longer be the great God worthy of all glory in all the universe, which he is.
The Bible is not saying that God does not love us deeply. On the contrary, we have seen in Scripture a God of unusual, surprising, intimate passion for his people. But that passion does not ultimately center on his people. It centers on his greatness, his goodness and his glory being made known globally among all peoples. And to disconnect God’s blessing from God’s global purpose is to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God’s grace.
Where in the Bible is missions ever identified as an optional program in the church?…We have taken this command [to go to all nations]…and reduced it to a calling—something that only a few people receive.
We have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all.
What if we don’t need to sit back and wait for a call to foreign missions? What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which he created us?
As we have seen all over Scripture, God’s heart is for the world. So when we say we have a heart for the United States, we are admitting that we have a meager 5 percent of God’s heart, and we are proud of it. When we say we have a heart for the city we live in, we confess that we have less than 1 percent of God’s heart.
Shouldn’t ever Christian’s heart be ultimately consumed with how we can make God’s glory known in all the world?
The formal definition of impact is “a forcible contact between two things,” and God has designed our lives for a collision course with the world.
The Multiplying Community
How all of us Join Together to Fulfill God’s Purpose
What is shocking is that when Jesus summarizes his work on earth, he doesn’t start reliving all the great sermons he preached and all the people who came to listen to him. He doesn’t talk about the amazing miracles he performed—giving sigh tot the blind, enabling the lame to walk, and feeding thousands of people with minimal food. He doesn’t even mention bringing the dead back to life. Instead he talks repeatedly about the small group of men God had given him out of the world. They were the work God had given to him. They were, quite literally, his life.
At the end of the Son of God’s time on earth, he had staked everything on his relationships with twelve men. In the middle of his prayer, he even mentioned that one of them (Judas) was lost. So now we are down to eleven. These eleven guys were the small group responsible for carrying on everything Jesus had begun.
One of the unintended consequences of contemporary church strategies that revolve around performances, places, programs, and professionals is that somewhere along the way people get left out of the picture. But according to Jesus, people are God’s method for winning the world to himself.
The plan of Chris t is not dependent on having the right programs or hiring the right professionals but on building and being the right people—a community of people—who realize that we are all enabled and equipped to carry out the purpose of God for our lives.
Jesus reminds me that disciples are not mass produced.
Jesus has not given us an effortless step-by-step formula for impacting nations for his glory. He has given us people, and he has said, “Live for them. Love them, serve them, and lead them. Lead them to follow me, and lead them to lead others to follow me. In the process you will multiply the gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Disciple making is not a call for others to come to us to hear the gospel but a command for us to go to others to share the gospel. A command for us to be gospel-living, gospel-speaking people at every moment and in every context where we find ourselves.
When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level.
[God’s Word] is multiplying because the people of God are no longer listening as if his Word is intended to stop with them. They are now living as if God’s Word is intended to spread through them.
This plan seems so counterintuitive to our way of thinking. In a culture where bigger is always better and flashy is always more effective, Jesus beckons each of us to plainly, humbly, and quietly focus our lives on people.
In our Christian version of the American dream, our plan ends up disinfecting Christians from the world more than discipline Christians in the world. 
Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good.
When we gather at the building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. We are holy because of what we don’t participate in (and tat this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don’t do).
Whereas disinfecting Christians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others. Now the world is our focus, and we gauge success in the church not on the hundreds of thousands whom we can get into our own buildings but on the hundreds of thousands who are leaving our buildings to take on the world with the disciples they are making. In this case, we would never think that the disciple-making plan of Jesus could take place in one service a week at one location led by one or two teachers.
How Much is Enough?
American Wealth and a World of Poverty
This frightens me. Good intentions, regular worship, and even study of the Bible do not prevent blindness in us. … I can live my Christian life and even lead the church while unknowingly overlooking evil.
Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry.
Indeed, caring for the poor (among other things) is evidence of our salvation…. [It] is one natural overflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts.
I challenge you to consider if it [your response to the poor] is a blind spot in your life. If it is, then I want to dare you to look across the landscape of starving millions through the eyes of Christ, who “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
We certainly wouldn’t ignore our kids while we sang songs and entertained ourselves, but we are content with ignoring other parents’ kids. Many of them are our spiritual brothers and sisters in developing nations. They are suffering from malnutrition, deformed bodies and brains, and preventable diseases. At most, we are throwing our scraps to them while we indulge in our pleasures here.
What scares me most, though, is that we can pretend that we are the people of God. We can comfortably turn a blind eye to these words in the Bible and go on with our affluent model of Christianity and church. WE can even be successful in our church culture for doing so. It will actually be a sign of success and growth when we spend millions on ourselves.
Isn’t the hidden assumption among many Christians in our culture that if we follow God, things will go well for us materially?
At the core, aren’t [our houses of worship] too often outdated models of religion that wrongfully define worship according to a place and wastefully consume our time and money when God has called us to be a people who spend out lives for the sake of his glory among the needy outside our gates?
If Mark 10 teaches anything, it teaches us that Jesus does sometimes call people to sell everything they have and give it to the poor. 
That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom he would issue that command.
The rich young man in Mark 10 didn’t see Jesus for who he was. The rich man perceived him as a respectable religious figure, calling him “good teacher.” However, Jesus was not, and never is, interested in being seen as a respectable teacher. He is the sovereign Lord. He doesn’t give options for people to consider; he gives commands for people to obey.
Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?
Jesus never intended to be one voice among many counseling us on how to lead our lives and use our money. He always intends to be the voice that guides whatever decisions we make in our lives and with our money.
Jesus wasn’t telling [the rich young man] to give away everything he had because Jesus hated him or desired to make his life miserable. Jesus was telling him to give away everything he had because Jesus loved him.
This is really the core issue of it all. Do we trust him? Do we trust Jesus when he tells us to give radically for the sake of the poor? Do we trust him to provide for us when we begin using the resources he has given us to provide for others? Do we trust him to know what is best for our lives, our families, and our financial futures?
Ultimately, Jesus was communicating to this man [rich young ruler] that there was nothing he could do to enter the kingdom of God apart from total trust in God. It is impossible for us to earn our way into heaven. IN the process, though, Jesus was exposing the barrier that this man’s wealth was to seeing his need for God. His wealth on earth would ultimately keep him from eternal treasure.
We just don’t believe that our wealth can be a barrier to entering the kingdom of God. We are fine with thinking of affluence, comfort, and material possessions as blessings. But they cannot be barriers.
We don’t sell [our possessions] or give them away because they are sinful…. We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the needy around us.
Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more.
The truth is, there will continue to be millions and millions of people who do not hear as long as we continue to use spare time and spare money to each them. Those are two radically different questions. “What can we spare?” and “What will it take?”
The logic that says, “I can’t do everything, so I won’t do anything,” is straight from hell.
The lesson I learned is that the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that: a war. It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably.
Ultimately, I don’t want to miss eternal treasure because I settle for earthly trinkets. “Where your treasure is,” Jesus says, “there your heart will be also.”
You and I both have a choice.
We can stand with the starving or with the overfed.
We can identify with poor Lazarus on his way to heaven or with the rich man on his way to hell.
We can embrace Jesus while we give away our wealth, or we can walk away from Jesus while we hoard our wealth.
There is No Plan B
Why Going is Urgent, Not Optional
Subtly…equality of persons shifts into an equality of ideas. Just as every person is equally valued, so every idea is equally valid. Applied to faith, this means that in a world where different people have different religious views, all such views should be treated as fundamentally equal.
In this system of thinking, faith is a matter of taste, not of truth. The cardinal sin, therefore, is to claim that one person’s belief is true and another person’s belief is false. The honorable route is to rest quietly in what you believe and resist the urge to share your beliefs with someone else.
Many profession Christians have embraced the universalistic idea that religion is merely a matter of preference or opinion and that in the end all religions are fundamentally the same.
While some professing Christians have reject universalism intellectually, practically they may end up leading universalistic lives. They claim Christ is necessary for salvation, yet they live their Christianity in silence, as if people around them in the world will indeed be okay in the end without Christ.
I am convinced that this is one of the most important questions facing Christianity in America today. If people will go to heaven simply based on their native religious preferences, then there is no urgency for any of us to go to them. But if they will not go to heaven because they have never head of Christ, then there is indescribable urgency for all of us to go to them. If people are dying and going to hell with out ever even knowing there is a gospel, then we clearly have no time to waste our lives on an American dream.
We are all idolaters. Whether in America or Africa or Asia, no one worships God truly, because in our hearts we reject the true God. 
All people, regardless of religious, cultural, or ethnic background, stand guilty before God. In Paul’s words, “Every mouth [is] silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.”
Many professing Christians have come to the conclusion that if certain people around the world don’t have the opportunity to hear about Jesus, then this automatically excuses them from God’s condemnation…. We want people to be okay when they haven’t heard the opportunity to hear the gospel. But think…about the logic of this conclusion. It asserts that people will be with God in heaven for all eternity precisely because they never heard of Christ. Their not hearing about Christ gives them a pass into heaven.
In addition to the lack of biblical evidence for such a pass, consider the practical implications of this idea. If people will go tot heaven precisely because they never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus, the worst thing we could do for their eternal state would be go to go them and tell them about Jesus. That would only increase their chances of going to hell!
God would not be just in condemning people for not believing in a Savior they never heard of. But don’t forget, people are not ultimately condemned for not believing in Jesus. They are ultimately condemned for rejecting God.
If we conclude that people can get to heaven apart from faith in Christ, then this would mean there is something else they can do to get to heaven…. It would also be tantamount to saying to Jesus, “Thank you for what you did on the cross, but we could have gotten to God another way.”
Many stories are told today of God revealing Christ in dreams and visions around the world to people who have never heard of Jesus. Consequently, many Christians have begun leaning on the hope that God is using other ways to make the gospel known to people who have never heard of Jesus. But we need to remember something. There is not one verse in the book of Acts where the gospel advances to the lost apart from a human agent.
A soft-drink company in Atlanta [Coke] has done a better job getting brown sugar water to these people than the church of Jesus Christ has done in getting the gospel to them.
Some wonder if it is unfair for God to allow so many to have no knowledge of the gospel. But there is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven’t heard. That is unfair.
The will of God is for you and me to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples, particularly those who have never even heard of Jesus. The question, therefore, is not “Can we find God’s will?’ The question is “Will we obey God’s will?”
Living when Dying is Gain
The Risk and Reward of the Radical Life
He is good because he has met us at our deepest need and now uses us to show his glory and to advance his gospel among the places of greatest need in the world.
Jesus told them, “Go to great danger, and let it be said of you what people would say of sheep wandering into the middle of wolves, ‘They’re crazy! They’re clueless! They have no idea what kind of danger they are getting into!’ This is what it means to be my disciple.”
We say things such as, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” We think, If it’s dangerous, God must not be in it. If it’s risky, if it’s unsafe, if it’s costly, it must not be God’s will. But what if these factors are actually the criteria by which we determine something is God’s will? What if we began to look at the design of God as the most dangerous option before us? What if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?
Are we willing, as the first disciples were, to be the first to go into danger and possibly even to die there in order that those who come behind us might experience the fruit of our sacrifice?
The more our lives are conformed to his, the more we will receive what he received in this world.
The danger in our lives will always increase in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ.
As long as Christianity looks like the American dream, we will have few problems in this world.
How far we have come when we paste this symbol identified with martyred brother sand sisters in the first century onto the backs of our SUVs and luxury sedans in the twenty-first century.
The church, like the SS United States, has been designed for battle. 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 d the world, but to indulge ourselves in the peaceful comforts of the world.
Jim Elliott wrote: “So what if the well-fed church in the homeland needs stirring? They have the Scriptures, Moses, and the Prophets, and a whole lot more. Their condemnation is written on their bank books and in the dust on their Bible covers.”
C. T. Studd wrote: “Before the whole world, aye, before the sleepy, luke-warm, faithless, namby-pamby Christian world, we will dare to trust our God,…and we will do it with His joy unspeakable singing aloud in our hearts…. We will have the real Holiness of God, not the sickly stuff of talk and dainty words and pretty thoughts; we will have a Masculine Holiness, one of daring faith and works for Jesus Christ.”
Your life is free to be radical when you see death as reward. This is the essence of what Jesus taught in Matthew 10, and I believe it is the key to taking back your faith from the American dream.
The key is realizing—and believing—that this world is not your home. If you and I ever hope to free our lives from worldly desires, worldly thinking, worldly pleasures, worldly dreams…then we must focus our lives on another world. … We must fix our attention on “a better country—a heavenly one.”… For then and only then, will you and I be free to take a radical risk, knowing that what awaits us is radical reward.
When we consider the promises of Christ, risking everything we are and everything w have for his sake is no longer a matter of sacrifice. It’s just common sense. Following Christ is not sacrificial as much as it is smart. Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
The Radical Experiment
One Year to a Life Turned Upside Down
The radical challenge:
- Pray for the entire world
- Read through the entire Word
- Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
- Spend your time in another context
- Commit your life to a multiplying community
I would have expected Jesus to say [Matthew 9], “You guys see the need. The harvest is plentiful. So pray for these people who are harassed and helpless. Pray for them.” But that isn’t what he said. Jesus didn’t say to pray for those who were lost. Instead he told the disciples to pray for the church.
When Jesus looked at the harassed and helpless multitudes, apparently his concern was not that the lost would not come to the Father. Instead his concern was that his followers would not go to the lost.
A fundamental reality snaps into focus: we are not praying. This is the only possible explanation for how there can be such great need yet so few workers. The multitudes are waiting to hear, and our most urgent need is to pray for the Lord of the harvest to send out Christians into the harvest field.
We have settled far too long for “Bible lite,” both as individual Christians and in the community of faith. We have adopted a Christianity consumed with little devotional thoughts from God for the day, supplemented by teaching in the church filled with entertaining stories and trite opinions on how to be a better person and live a better life in the twenty-first century.
The battle is intense, and it cannot be fought with little thoughts in a daily devotional or petty ideas from a preacher on Sunday…. If you and I are going to penetrate our culture and the cultures of the world with the gospel, we desperately need minds saturated with God’s Word.
[The Bible] is the only Book that he has promised to bless by his Spirit to transform you and me into the image of Jesus Christ. It is the only Book that he has promised to use to bring our hearts, our minds, and our lives in alignment with him…. When you or I open the Bible, we are beholding the very words of God—words that have supernatural power to redeem, renew, refresh, and restore our lives to what he created them to be.
What’s so radical about praying and reading the Bible? My first thought is that, judging from the lack of spiritual fervency and biblical literacy in our churches today, these are extremely radical steps.
In our quest for the extraordinary, we often overlook the importance of the ordinary, and I’m proposing that a radical lifestyle actually begins with an extraordinary commitment to ordinary practices that have marked Christians who have affected the world throughout history [i.e. prayer and reading the Bible].
What if you took the next year and set a cap on your lifestyle? What if you sought for the next year to minimize luxuries in your life? This might involve selling present luxuries or withholding the purchase of future luxuries or intentionally sacrificing resources you already have.
Regarding the Radical Experiment and Giving/Sacrificing your Money:
- Sacrifice is giving away what it hurts to give. Sacrifice is not giving according to your ability; it’s giving beyond your ability.
- Spend your money on something that is gospel centered… People’s greatest need in the world is Christ. To meet people’s temporary physical needs apart from serving their eternal spiritual need misses the point of holistic biblical giving.
- Give in a way that is church focused…. Suffice it to say here that it is not wise to bypass God’s primary agent for bringing redemption to the world in an effort to meet the needs of the world. His primary agent is the church.
- Give to a specific, tangible need…. Related to this, give to someone or something you can personally serve alongside.
- Finally, give to someone or something you can trust.
For one year, sacrifice your money—every possible dollar—in order to spend your life radically on specific, urgent spiritual and physical need in the world.”
A true brother comes to be with you in your time of need.
When God chose to bring salvation to you and me, he did not send gold or silver, cash or check. He sent himself—the Son.
How will I ever show the gospel to the world if all I send is my money? Was I really so shallow as to think that my money is the answer to the needs in the world?
So how will we go? For each one of us, this clearly begins at home. Wherever you and I live, we are commanded to go and make disciples there…. Remember that Jesus didn’t travel to every place in the world while he was on earth, and he didn’t go to all the multitudes. He poured his life into a few men for the sake of the multitudes in places he would never go.
Going starts where we live, but it doesn’t stop there…. We have an obligation to go to them. This is not an option. This is a command, not a calling. What is a matter of calling is where we will go and how long we will stay.
We have discovered that 2 percent [about 1 week] of our time living out the gospel in other contexts has a radical effect on the other 98 percent of our time living out the gospel in our own context.
Consider what happens when all of us begin to look at our professions and areas of expertise not merely as means to an income or to career paths in our own context but as platforms for proclaiming the gospel in contexts around the world.
God has created us for community with one another, and the community we were created for is called the church. As part of a vibrant community of faith, you will have support and encouragement to live out your intention to be radically abandoned to Jesus.
It is also the New Testament pattern for us to be a part of a local body of Christ, a gathering of brothers and sisters in a particular location where our Christianity comes to life in commitment to one another.
We are not lone rangers trying to accomplish the purpose of God.
The reality is, we need community in order to follow Christ radically. I am convinced that one reason many of us have not taken radical steps in our giving, for example, may not be so much because we love our possessions as it is because we fear isolation. If the radical, simple living we see Jesus talking about were more common in the church, it would be much easier for us to live simply as well.
If we are going to live in radical obedience to Christ, we will need the church to do it. We will need to show one another how to give liberally, go urgently, and live dangerously. When we sacrifice our resources for the poor and then face unexpected and unforeseen needs in our own lives, we will need brothers and sisters to help us stand.
The global purpose of Christ was never intended to be accomplished by individuals.
Consider what you might feel after a year of being intimately exposed to the heart of God for every nation in the world. Contemplate what you might know about the glory of God after a year of listening closely to his voice. Think of all the possessions you have now that you would realize you do not need, and think of all the dire needs that would be met as a result of your sacrifice of them.
The challenge before us, then, is to use the freedoms, resources, and opportunities God has entrusted to us for his purpose in the world, all the while remaining careful not to embrace ideas, values and assumptions that contradict what God has said in his Word.
As Elizabeth Elliot points out, not even dying a martyr’s death is classified as extraordinary obedience when you are following a Savior who died on a cross. Suddenly a martyr’s death seems like normal obedience.
You can cling to short-term treasures that you cannot keep, or you can live for long-term treasures that you cannot lose: people coming to Christ; men, women, and children living because they now have food; unreached tribes receiving the gospel. And the all-consuming satisfaction of knowing and experiencing Christ as the treasure above all others.
What that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacation, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.
Find more resources and tools related to Radical at RadicalTheBook.com
Check out Shepherd Project’s Chapter by Chapter Summary of Radical – click here!
 Platt, David. Radical. Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2010.
 Ibid., 1-2.
 Ibid., 1-2.
 Ibid., 2.
 Ibid., 2.
 Ibid., 7.
 Ibid., 10.
 Ibid., 11.
 Ibid., 12.
 Ibid., 13.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 18.
 Ibid., 27.
 Ibid., 28.
 Ibid., 29.
 Ibid., 31-32.
 Ibid., 34.
 Ibid., 37.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 39.
 Ibid., 40.
 Ibid., 40.
 Ibid., 45.
 Ibid., 45-47.
 Ibid., 47.
 Ibid, 48-49.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 54.
 Ibid., 55.
 Ibid., 58-59.
 Ibid., 59.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 60.
 Ibid., 64.
 Ibid., 65.
 Ibid., 66.
 Ibid., 68.
 Ibid., 69.
 Ibid., 70.
 Ibid., 70-71.
 Ibid., 71.
 Ibid., 71.
 Ibid., 72-73.
 Ibid., 73.
 Ibid., 75.
 Ibid., 76.
 Ibid., 76.
 Ibid., 83.
 Ibid., 88-89.
 Ibid., 89.
 Ibid., 92.
 Ibid., 93.
 Ibid., 93.
 Ibid., 94.
 Ibid., 101.
 Ibid., 103.
 Ibid., 103.
 Ibid., 104.
 Ibid., 104.
 Ibid., 105.
 Ibid., 105.
 Ibid., 108.
 Ibid., 109.
 Ibid., 110.
 Ibid., 113.
 Ibid., 115.
 Ibid., 115-116.
 Ibid., 117.
 Ibid., 118.
 Ibid., 120.
 Ibid., 120. (Quoted from Robert H. Gundry, Matthew: A Commentary on His Handbook for a Mixed Church under Persecution, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 388.
 Ibid., 120-121.
 Ibid., 121.
 Ibid., 123-124.
 Ibid., 124-125.
 Ibid., 125.
 Ibid., 126.
 Ibid., 127.
 Ibid., 129.
 Ibid., 130.
 Ibid., 136.
 Ibid., 138.
 Ibid., 140.
 Ibid., 141.
 Ibid., 142.
 Ibid., 142.
 Ibid., 142-143.
 Ibid., 145.
 Ibid., 146.
 Ibid., 148.
 Ibid., 149.
 Ibid., 154.
 Ibid., 157.
 Ibid., 159.
 Ibid., 159.
 Ibid., 160.
 Ibid., 164.
 Ibid., 164.
 Ibid., 164-165.
 Ibid., 165.
 Ibid., 167.
 Ibid., 167.
 Ibid., 168.
 Ibid., 169.
 Ibid., 170-171.
 Ibid., 177.
 Ibid., 178.
 Ibid., 179.
 Ibid., 181.
 Ibid., 185.
 Ibid., 187.
 Ibid., 187.
 Ibid., 187.
 Ibid., 191.
 Ibid., 191.
 Ibid., 192.
 Ibid., 193.
 Ibid., 193.
 Ibid., 194.
 Ibid., 195.
 Ibid., 195.
 Ibid., 195.
 Ibid., 195.
 Ibid., 196.
 Ibid., 196.
 Ibid., 198.
 Ibid., 198.
 Ibid., 198.
 Ibid., 198.
 Ibid., 200.
 Ibid., 200.
 Ibid., 203.
 Ibid., 204.
 Ibid., 204.
 Ibid., 205.
 Ibid., 205.
 Ibid., 206.
 Ibid., 206.
 Ibid., 213.
 Ibid., 215.
 Ibid., 216.
 Ibid., 216.
 Ibid., 216-217.