Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Radical

Sometimes I ponder how the history of man ebbs and flows from comfortable complacency to active social and religious movement. I've always had a hard time accurately memorizing history's timeline, but I've been able to catch the gist of the equation: where persecution (or economic hardship, etc) is applied, an equal and opposite revolution evolves. And my suspicion is that this law applies not only at the local level, but across a global spectrum as well.

(Don't I sound smart?)

(No? I sound like a dork? Well who cares; read on anyway.)

In other words, just like most every Christian's normal life, there is a wider-spread waning and waxing of Jesus-freakishness. It has to do with generations. And growing up. individuals, as churches, as a country...

(What? I still sound like a dork? Well I'm no anthropologist, I'm just thinking out loud here. Keep goin'...)

I say this because the more I grow up and find out that life can be ridiculously painful/hard/disappointing/problematic and Jesus shows up and exposes who God really is and how real LIVING doesn't look like my candy-coated expectations at all... the more I see this same revelation being touted all over the place. Sermons are spoken, books are written, people everywhere are unplugging from the Matrix!

People everywhere.

For a while now.

Which brings me back to wondering about the ebb and flow. Is it merely about the individual growing up? Do we also "grow up" as a body of believers, countrymen, earth-dwellers? thesis for my future career as a cultural anthropologist and religious historian.

All of this to introduce you to an old idea that seems to be resurrecting (ha! religious pun!) or maybe it's always been around: Radical Faith. In his book Radical, David Platt challenges us to take God at His Word. To actually find out which way God wants to move you and to let it happen. Drop your net and follow? Sell all your possessions and give to the poor? He's basically challenging us to prove that we're not camels trying to get through the eye of a needle. And story after story, he illustrates why a radical devotion to Jesus is trustworthy, worthwhile, fulfilling, exhilarating even!

I can tell you from personal experience: the hugest risks I have taken trusting God with my carefully guarded heart and life have yielded the most fruitful returns. I have seen miracles occur, and what's more is that I. Have. Matured. My eyes seeing, my mind understanding. For so long Maturity seemed frustratingly impossible, and sometimes it's still glaringly obvious (to me, at least) how far I have yet to go. In those times, if I'm not too selfish or lazy, it's not long before I see that I'm obsessing with the temporary, with all these things that "moth and rust destroy", or even with relationships wherein my own selfish interests are what I'm aiming to protect at all cost.

Donald Miller is one of the authors who seems to be making money on ideas that God is speaking directly to ME (sheesh)... and a while ago he wrote about The Single Most Powerful Question You Can Ask: What if? This is a question I have gotten really good at asking... and testing.

I mostly love risk. I loved science in school: creating hypotheses and testing them out (what if I push this button?). I still love rollercoasters: the scarier and more unpredictable the better (what if I don't know where I'm hurtling through space to?)! I love when Chris McCandless burns his money and his ID and sets off into the unknown, contradicting every course expected of him (what if I live completely opposite of post-collegiate society and set off Into the Wild?).

And the more I do it, the more I love trusting God and seeing what happens. Time and time again I come up with the most unexpected results. And I discover there is blessing and satisfaction outside of a disease-free existence. In fact, I just looked up synonyms for sterile (meaning "clean") and I wasn't surprised to find barren, bleak, desolate, dry, empty, fruitless, futile, vain... Interesting. Where things are perfectly clean, there is fruitlessness. What irony!

This Beautiful Mess is another book that has inspired me, spoken directly to what God has been bringing me into, and the title says it all. Life is messy, and beautifully so.

You can download and read chapter one of David Platt's Radical here as well as request a free copy of The Radical Question (companion booklet to Radical) by going to

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group


CeAnne said...

Strange how I've been reading similar things and thinking along the same lines :) I just read in my book this morning about how Jesus doesn't take away all the pain and suffering even though He could, and would love to, it creates suffering in Him to see His creatures suffer so. BUT, virture comes through the suffering other wise we would most likley not look to Him for help. We tend to pray more when we are in need rather than when we are glad and rejoicing.

Paul and I are big fans of the survival type life, it always seems like it would be a relief to leave some of the cares of the world and be out on our 'own'.

chaundra said...

sounds like a great book! i'm definitely interested in checking it out. love the blog girl! i know i've said it before, but your transparency is so moving to me...