Jun 15 2010

[book review] radical by david platt

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Amazon: Buy the book
  • Kindle version: Get it now
  • ISBN-10: 1601422210

Amazon.com review from June 14, 2010

Although I really like much of the content in this book, and I am glad I read it, I struggled some with the author’s communication style of ‘you need to do everything I’m saying’. He has many great points about taking back your faith from the american dream. I live in a city where the income average is twice that of the national average. I have a 1780 square foot home, which here is considered extremely small, yet I consider it very big. I drive my 14 year old car next to many new and much fancier cars. Over the past couple of years, and a lot lately, I really have to wonder why God has me in a place where people are living the american dream… times 2. I clearly don’t fit in here, or do I?

David gives many opinions, and many of them really good, but I feel like I still don’t know what he’s about. He gave some personal examples, but not enough for me see that he is completely sold out to his opinions and vision. Before this book, I read Shane Claiborne’s book The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical “Irresistible Revolution”, and it was clear by his stories and the way he communicated it, that he is sold out to his vision and beliefs. I do recommend reading this book, but I also recommend that you pray about God’s will for your life within the context of his thoughts.

The premise of the book is that everyone must make disciples everywhere in the world, no exceptions, and doing things locally is not enough. I will challenge this with a little different way of thinking. Yes, it would be great if everyone could go to other countries to help people. AND, he is right that we shouldn’t just send money and feel like we’ve accomplished something. First, I think God has a will for all of us to help, and when we all understand out how he wants us to be His hands and feet in the world, we should not ignore that. I think David is right that we should make sacrifices on some level and make helping the poor a priority, not a passing thing that might happen once a year at Christmas time or when you decided to clean out your closet and give away your discards. On page 130, he says, “What would happen together if we stopped giving our scraps to the poor and started giving surplus?” He is right, we should order our lives in way that allows us to help others. But if I don’t go out of the country, then I am not doing God’s work? I don’t believe that. I’m a single mom with a full time job and limited financial resources. I do go to Mexico on mission trips, although I hate calling them that, as these orphans we visit are family. I would love to go to Africa and many other places, but that’s just not a reality right now. So I can support someone who can go and I can also do many things here to support the impoverished locally. I’m not accepting the implied guilt trip. According to David, I am wrong.

I pray about what missions work I should be doing everyday, and not only that, I’m also teaching my kids to do the same. We might not be in other countries physically, but I’m not ignoring them. I know people are suffering globally and I can partner with people that are making a difference. My heart is with those people as well, and I think that’s what God is calling us to do. We should love everyone, be aware of global needs and not ignore them. These places are far away and they’re not in our day to day lives, and if we don’t look for them, chances are we will not ever see them. We have to be intentional about educating ourselves so we can reach out in the ways God has designed us to do just that.

I know this will end up being the longest book review ever to hit Amazon, so I’ll wrap it up. David’s challenges at the end of the book are this:

Pray for the entire world
Read through the entire Word
Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose
Spend your time in another context
Commit your life to multiplying community

I love these challenges! I read these and have started in a positive direction on all of them, but by praying through them and understanding what God wants from me and within my reality.

I had an idea from reading this, an idea about praying for the world, which I started last night with my kids. I’m doing a year of no retail shopping, which I’m blogging the process on [...] (I’m only 19 days into it at the time of this review) Other than groceries and toiletries, I can purchase used stuff only, and only if needed. I went to the used bookstore and bought a world atlas. (used for $10. I would have purchased from Amazon, but I wanted to start my idea immediately) When my kids and I pray every night, we are now also praying for the people in a specific place every night. I realized my geography skills are… well, they suck. I could try to sugar coat that, but there’s no point. With the atlas, we can not only pray for people globally, but we can see where they live, learn more about them and better understand how we can help. I have every hope that we can visit some of these places someday and my kids have that desire too. They want to meet Angelo, our Compassion International sponsored child in Peru. How cool would that be? I have no idea if that could ever happen, but they continue to dream about it and I continue to support them in believing it could happen someday. We also write our name and date we prayed for places in the atlas.

So to sum it up, I recommend reading the book, there’s a lot of really good things to ponder. As a matter of fact, I have highlighted and underlined many things in this book and I will refer back to it. If you have the same struggle I did in relating to the author, read it anyway, consciously eliminating his opinions, but taking seriously his thoughts and ideas. Take his challenges too. The world would be a much better place if we all made some positive changes, even if it’s just a tiny one.