Few things will get you as strange a look among American Christians as the mention of the principles found in David Platt's book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, published by Multnomah. This book, however, is timely in that the material prosperity of the American church has been no greater than today. With such prosperity comes avalanches of temptations to "do Christianity" out of a man-centered, self-effort sort of way. The biblical fact is that Jesus has called us to a life of sacrifice and suffering.
While there is nothing sinful about having earthly wealth as a Christian, I am convinced that it is sinful to do with our wealth what too many of us do. When the statistics bear out that more than 26,000 children will die today of starvation or a preventable disease and that Christian Americans have the means of making a difference in the lives of many of these children, then we must reevaluate our spending habits, both as churches and individuals. Reflecting on the American church's historical blind spot of slavery, Platt rightly contemplates:
"We look back on slave-owning churchgoers of 150 years ago and ask, 'How could they have treated fellow human beings that way?' I wonder if followers of Christ 150 years from now will look back at Christians in America today and ask, 'How could they live in such big houses? How could they drive such nice cars and wear such nice clothes? How could they live in such affluence while thousands of children were dying because they didn't have food and water? How could they go on with their lives as though the billions of poor didn't even exist?' "(p.111)
Radical is a call to a simplified approach to possessions for the sake of helping others with the basic needs of life, including food, water, clothing, shelter, and (not the least of which), THE GOSPEL. Platt makes the poignant statement, "Surely this is something we must uncover, for if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to questions just how effective we will be in declaring the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth." (p.111)
One of the driving points of Radical is that Christian Americans need to understand that God has blessed them materially so that they can be a conduit of blessing to the nations. While it is not sinful to live in abundance (as is amply clear from Scripture), it is sinful to live stingily and callously toward the poor. While caring for the poor must not be substituted for preaching the gospel, how can we preach to the poor without a deep compassion for their physical human condition and not just their souls?
I pray that God would continue to use the message of Radical to impact Christians around the world for the glory of God and His great gospel
For His Glory,