As the Lord continued to draw me near to Him, teach me the reality of my sin and the truth of His grace, affection for Jesus truly developed in a way that I had never known it before. It was about that time that our pastor asked the church to go through David Platt’s book, Radical, together. And from the moment I read the first words of the first chapter, the Lord grabbed my heart and said, “Listen to this!” If you’re not familiar with this book, here’s the summary from Amazon:
What is Jesus worth to you?
It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...
But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?
In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.
Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment--a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.
For the most part, he just quoted Scripture, but I read it with new eyes and a new heart. My view of the world and my responsibility toward it began to change. Here are some points which have deeply affected me:
- The version of Christianity I was comfortable with looked a whole lot more like the American Dream than the version of Christianity Jesus preached.
- I am rich. I don’t mean spiritually (although I am), I mean financially. Statistically, I live in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the world.
- People who die without knowing Jesus will go to Hell.
- If Jesus said things like, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor,” multiple times to multiple people, I have to think He meant it, and maybe it didn’t apply only to the people to whom He said it. Maybe it could apply to me in some way.
But let’s face it, I could just take all of this and make a new form of legalism. I could make a new checklist and get going trying to reconcile myself to God. But I’m so thankful that when I read this, I was also listening to Matt Chandler remind me that Jesus wants my heart and not my good behavior / begrudging submission. That’s about the time I realized that if Scripture says “XYZ,” and I’m looking for ways to get out of it, then there’s a problem with my heart.
And so these truths are steadily sinking into my heart. The more I read the Bible, and the more I ask the Lord to transform me, the better I begin to see what this could possibly look like for me, and for our family. Last year, the only really big difference it made was that Rob & I volunteered at an income-restricted apartment complex in our area. We got to hang out with kids and build relationships with them, and sometimes their parents. That opportunity ended earlier this year for us, but I look back and think what a small step of faith it was to step out and volunteer, but how much it took me out of my comfort zone. Even still, it also kind of felt like home. It’s hard to describe how something so foreign can at the same time feel so familiar, but I think that’s often how God’s plans work.
So what about you? Are you following Jesus, or the American Dream with Jesus dust sprinkled on top? What Scriptures have challenged you to ask the Lord to examine your heart? And how has following the Lord fleshed itself out in your life?