I'm trying to get caught up on my reading, and remembered that I had a couple gift certificates on audible.de - which means I could get three books for free, two if I'm not as savvy at searching. There's been a large stir about books lately by Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne, Jen Hatmaker, David Platt and a few others. I figured since money is tight, I might as well see what audible books are available. I found myself a copy of "Radical" and "A Radical Idea" by Dr. David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama.
There's been some major controversy in the circles that I am in about the Radical books and experiment in my circles back home in Birmingham, Alabama.
When the books hit the market, there was a HUGE stir and I kept getting emails about them and how it was either revolutionary or "OMGZ! We have to give up everything or we aren't Christians?!" or "Golly willakers, he's saying I have to go to Africa!" or "Oh no, he's putting leadership in the hands of the common person who has had no training! How awful!"
So, I chalked it up to the typical knee-jerk responses and filed it in the back of my mind to read that and Francis Chan. If it was that "knee-jerky" to the people it was causing that reaction to, odds are it's perfectly ok, rather benign, or it's awesome and I'd love it.
I used my leftover Audible gift certificates to get "A Radical Idea" and "Radical" day before yesterday.
My feeling prior to listening to either book was that the church had become too much of a marketing scheme, a good ol' boy's club and that the people with gifts were either being used to death (I'm one of those people) and no true discipleship or people who have needs being taken under the wings of the able-bodied and EVERYONE with gifts encouraged to use them. In my mind and heart, we were really failing at missions not only in our own back yards, but also abroad; and that we just needed to quit thinking in terms of our entertainment and think of the building we assemble in as a hospital and school and treat it as such.
Funny thing, David Platt is saying something quite similar. It's a major confirmation of things that have been on my heart for many years. Even more hilarious, I know the Church at Brook Hills by reputation. I worked not far from there for many years, but attended elsewhere and knew others who did attend there. I do believe I may have left before David Platt took head of that helm. The year he took that helm, I was transitioning out of the United States, and into Germany.
I don't see why the people I know who reacted badly really did - other than they figured it was some sort of *insert conspiracy theory here* and just random musings of their minds after their brain shut down when they heard what they didn't like. I mean, to hear tell, it was the next heretical thing that was going to just make people throw their hands up in the air and walk away because they can't measure up.
Halfway through the book, David pauses and explains how this book is not about becoming poor and throwing away all your possessions and moving overseas. But, he does encourage a more minimalist, less "me" mindset, and ask ourselves "what if...?" - What if we were told to use our savings, or change our lifestyle, or to go on mission trips, or to stop walking past the poor, sick and hungry - to upend our "me-centric" ideologies.
In a way, this is towards a more Torah-centric lifestyle. Building up from the bottom and focusing more on G-d, the community around us, grace, and ourselves. In the end, it doesn't matter if you are rich, poor, middle class or somewhere between each of these and not be afraid to use your gifts, your talents, your abilities and funds wherever it is that you find that G-d is directing you, rather than hoarding it all and burying it and being afraid of how G-d will react in the end.
I'm not finished with the book just yet, but I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Perhaps you will too. It fits very well with gentle, grace-based parenting; environmental, fair trade and human rights awareness, as well as missions and a prayerful lifestyle. If perhaps I alone cannot convince you about how interesting this concept is; perhaps the articles below can.
"At the heart of Platt's message is his claim that we mistakenly turn the "radical Jesus of the Bible … into the comfortable Jesus of 21st-century American culture." He warns that the culture of "self-advancement, self-esteem, and self-sufficiency" and our "individualism, materialism, and universalism" have neutered American Christians' witness and blinded us to widespread global poverty, an orphan crisis, and the massive number of those who still have never heard of Jesus."
Christianity Today: Here Come the Radicals!
People within the New Radical movement (who would most likely hate to be identified as being “new”, “radical”, and possibly even a “movement”) are a much wider and more diverse crowd than a Christianity Today profile would make us believe. Although a few of them are easily identifiable by their dreadlocks and burlap pants, most of the people being called to live on the margins of the American dream do so quietly, in love, and without any fanfare. Most of all, they are people who are deeply in love with Jesus and committed to obeying his still small voice, and who often find their life going in directions that is not affiliated with the status quo. There is no getting around this element of the New Radicals: they are right to critique American culture and the church’s compliciteness in valuing distinctly western ideologies. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were never the topic of conversation around Jesus–in fact, in his upside-down kingdom, it was quite the opposite.
Notes from the Margins: The New Radicals are Already Here