I've always been uncomfortable with the term "radical".  It's one of those words that has always carried a negative connotation for me.  Then I read this book:

It uses the term in reference to Christianity.  And how far American Christianity has departed from the gospel, thanks to the American dream.
...the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about the American dream, and how I honestly think it hasn't done humanity a whole lot of favors - by undermining the unrelenting work ethic of our forefathers, by replacing our need for God with the need for more and more and more things, and by exalting ourselves at the expense of, well, anyone else we can trample on our way up.  I thought of these things before I read the book, but I didn't think about them in the context of faith.
We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.
As American Christians, we celebrate the idea that "all men are created equal." This statement from our Declaration of Independence is grounded in the biblical teaching that every person in the world has been formed in the image of God and therefore has intrinsic worth.  It's a beautiful idea. Subtly, however, this 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....... Then I implore you to consider the urgent need before us to forsake the American dream now in favor of radical abandonment to the person and purpose of Christ.
I wrote about our freedom from financial debt last week.  The thing about debt is that it nags you.  It's a constant whispering in the back of your mind.  You can't forget that it's there.  We might be debt-free financially, but we are never going to be debt-free when it comes to what we owe our friends, families, and would-be, should-be brothers and sisters in Christ.
The price is certainly high for people who don’t know Christ and who live in a world where Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the Gospel remain in the dark.
Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world - to the least person and to the greatest person, to the richest person and to the poorest person, to the best person and to the worst person. We are in debt to the nations. Encompassed with debt though, in our approach to missions, we have subtly taken ourselves out from the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, "I'm sorry. I'm just not called to do that." 
That's just the thing though - we are called to do that.  Exactly that.  In Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  In other words, at home and away, with people who are like us and people who are different from us.  As Paul says in Romans 1:14, we're in debt to the Greeks and the barbarians, the smart and the foolish.
The population of world (at time of book published): 6,783,421,727. According to most liberal estimates 1/3 of world is Christian. That leaves 4.5 BILLION headed to hell.
This should motivate us.  We should be shaken.  We should feel that nagging sense of obligation of an unpaid debt.  This Thanksgiving season, we need to be thanking God for and giving...the gospel.

And that's just one thing I got out of this book...
....cost of discipleship is great. But I wonder if cost of non-discipleship is even greater.


Sharon said...

Powerful words...I'm pondering. (A little guilty, mostly challenged and inspired).


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