What church do you go to? the woman asked me.
When she heard my response, she said, oh, yes, that big church. I’ve heard that’s a cult. I’ve heard that your pastor tells you to sell everything you have and give the money away. Her friends all nodded in excited agreement.
Not exactly, I reply, it was actually Jesus who said that.
When I heard about the book, I was intrigued. I have only heard David Platt (an adoptive father, by the way) speak once, but I was hooked. It was a simple fluke that we tried out our current church first and fell in love, because I think we would also find his congregation to be a good fit for our family. Anyway, after hearing about the book, I wondered how radical it really was. Was it going to freak me out? Was I going to be terribly convicted? Was I going to read it and then uproot my family and become a missionary?
Since I had so many people tell me it was on their list to read or ask me if it was worth reading, I decided to give you my take on the book.
First of all, I would say that the radical-ness of the book is pretty subjective. It depends on where you stand in your beliefs already. It depends what you are hearing from the pulpit of your current church (personally, I enjoy feeling challenged to always do more/be more/give more by my pastor. Does it mean that sometimes I say to myself “ouch” when he is preaching? Yes. Is that a good thing? Yes). It depends on the attitude you have when you read the Bible (do you take it for what it says or interpret it in a way that suits your situation? do you tell you yourself that the rules do not apply today?).
The woman who told me I was in a cult would probably find this book incredibly radical. As an aside, I later realized that she probably thinks I attend David Platt’s church and someone has told her that he wrote a book telling people to sell all of their belongings and give the money away. Well, I heard, and she said, and blah, blah, blah. A classic example of misinformation.
The gist of the book, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is rediscovering what Jesus ACTUALLY said about being his disciple. Hint: he did say to give everything away. The book discusses how some modern-day Christians have manipulated the Bible to fit our preferences.
The book was eye-opening to me, especially in a few ways. You might read it and be blown away by many other parts, but I will touch on some of my bigger takeaways (and forgive me for not having any quotes from the book to share, but I had to return it to the library. Y’all know I was getting late fees on that thing! $1.95?? Enough is enough!).
First of all, we are told to go into ALL THE WORLD and preach the gospel. I know that. I learned that in Sunday school!
But, I really had lulled myself into a sense of complacency, telling myself that some people were called to be missionaries. Bull. We are ALL called to be missionaries. And then I might even have told myself that’s fine, but I’m not really feeling comfortable enough led to get on a plane and go somewhere on a mission trip. I will just be a missionary in my own city. (Ask me how that local missionary thing was going, and I wouldn’t really have an answer for you. Ahem.) And the local missionary thing is all fine and good–great even! We should be a light to those around us, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t also called to GO.
Here’s a little secret. I’ve never wanted to GO.
But my eyes were opened to the fact that it wasn’t about if I was comfortable with that or if it fit into my schedule.
One of the other big points in the book (and a part of the Radical Experiment at the end of the book) is to give (we are talking money and time here). Okay, I’m totally fine with that. Not just to give though–give sacrificially, like until it hurts. Like maybe even set a dollar amount that your family can survive on and give everything else away. Every penny you ever make over that number. EVERYTHING ELSE.
You know what though? It’s also biblical.
Now you could take that idea and twist it and call it crazy. This suggestion (and it is absolutely NOT a one size fits all type of thing, but rather you should pray about this and see what God is telling you to do) is much more fleshed out in the book, and much more eloquently discussed, and it absolutely allows for saving responsibly, etc, etc. But that’s the gist of it.
And like I said, we give. We give, and we get complacent in our giving. Our church has been a church for 10 years and in that time, they have donated over $10 million to worldwide missions. I see that number and I sprain my shoulder patting myself on the back and I think, I am doing something for worldwide missions.
But I’ve never been on a mission trip.
Our church has opened a free medical clinic in the inner city and I tell myself, I am a part of that–my money helped do that!
But I have never driven down there and seen it for myself, much less volunteered there.
There are two lessons in that. One–people need more than my money. They need me, they need my compassion, they need my time, and I need to be the hands and feet out there doing things. Two–even though I do give, it still isn’t enough. Do I seriously need another pair of shoes when there are others dying of starvation? Seriously?
So after I read this book, I began to think of how the Radical Experiment (there is much more to it than I have discussed here) would look lived out in my life. I started discussing these ideas with Jason and wondering if we gave more (of our time and our money), where would we give it, how would we manage, how would that look?
My first thought was that I need to get going locally. Donate my time, doing some sort of outreach HERE, in my own backyard. So I found a local DHR girls home in our area that is in need of tutors and mentors for the girls living there. I have signed on to be both, and I’m waiting for all of my background checks and fingerprints (think adoption homestudy all over again!) to come back so I can get started. Then my awesome small group leader set up a Saturday for us to serve lunch at a local homeless shelter. I would love it if this could be a regular thing for our group. I am so glad for the opportunity and really have a renewed desire to make a difference in my community.
As Jason and I talked about financial giving and mission trips, it did seem a bit overwhelming at first. We were both on board but we didn’t know exactly where to begin. Out of the blue, Jason received some information–he found out that he was going to start getting paid for some work that he currently does (and has been doing for years) as a volunteer. What a surprise!
Our first instinct was to spend it on ourselves. Literally, you could hear the wheels turning as we both made plans of everything we needed wanted.
Then I realized–this is our chance. This is a sign. So, we have decided to take every penny of this extra money and save it up. Our goal is to use it to take a mission trip next year or to find a need that is close to our hearts and give it away.
Is that radical? You tell me.