It is amazing what can be communicated with one mere word. And this word, Radical, is a fitting title for a book I'm currently reading by David Platt.
The message it contains helped to fan missional flames in a good friend of mine who is about to set out on a missionary venture in South America and ultimately, the Caribbean region. In fact, he gave me a copy of the book last week and I have found it difficult to put down.
Radical covers another critical piece of Kingdom life and community: discipleship. The foundation of our call as a people is to be disciples. And Jesus' final directive to us was to go into all the world and make disciples.
David Platt takes on American religious culture without mercy, taking aim at self centeredness in this devastating excerpt:
JESUS DIDN'T DIE FOR JUST YOU
We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God. Our hearts resonate with the idea of enjoying God's grace. We bask in sermons, conferences, and books that exalt a grace centering on us. And while the wonder of grace is worthy of our attention, if that grace is disconnected from its purpose, the sad result is a self-centered Christianity that bypasses the heart of God.
If you were to ask the average Christian sitting in a worship service on Sunday morning to summarize the message of Christianity, you would most likely hear something along the lines of "The message of Christianity is that God loves me." Or someone might say, "The message of Christianity is that God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus, to die for me."
As wonderful as this sentiment sounds, is it biblical? Isn't it incomplete, based on what we have seen in the Bible? "God loves me" is not the essence of biblical Christianity. Because 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.
But it is not biblical Christianity.
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.