Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

radical {baby} steps & a radical giveaway


I'm nervous about this post. It's of the thinking out loud, composing my thoughts sort. Expect some transparency. And some disjointed thought. Please do not interpret any presumption on my part...please don't infer an assault on your life...this is truly me working through God's message for me through this book. Okay, done with the disclaimers.

I have finally finished Radical. I hear's about time...I've been reading it since May/Iowa. you want to hear the scoop?

Actually, there are so many other people who have more beautiful and intelligent things to say, like here. {Really, please read that link...His words through her are exquisite.}

Proceed with caution...the words may compel you to read the book...or send you running in the other direction. The book may mess with your head...or your life. If you are active in a fellowship, you'll question why you attend a certain church. If you are shaken like me, you'll begin to really pay attention to every dollar you spend {which is a very good thing for me, indeed.} If you lean to the radical already, well, watch out, world.

Watch this.

Radical by David Platt from Taylor Robinson on Vimeo.

So, thoughts... well, first my definitions based on my understanding and my experiences....

The American dream: If I work hard and treat people well, I will be rewarded with a fulfilling and comfortable life...and that's heaven enough for now. 

The gospel of grace: I can do nothing to earn my way into heaven. I deserve separation from God for my mistakes. The only way for me to join God in heaven is to believe and accept the sacrifice He has given for me in His son, Jesus. And because His love is better than my life, I should be willing to sacrifice anything to share the news and glorify Him.

Oh, yeah, we're getting right into it.

David Platt, author and pastor of an Alabama church, challenges followers of Christ to examine the contradiction between the American dream and God's gospel of grace. They cannot be assimilated...they don't fit together. He asserts that the individual cannot be believing and working toward the advancement of both. As a believer, I must choose one course...the success of me or Him.

My responsibility as a recipient of His grace and a follower of Christ is to share the news and extend that grace by sacrificially giving {my time, my material possessions, my loved ones, my commitment to giving in spite of what others do with my time & money, everything I have} all the while giving Him the credit. Period.  Specifically, God asks me to take care of the widows and orphans. And to go and talk to others about Christ...wherever they may be. 


Thank God, He's already given me a little insight.

I have a voice in my head that says, You deserve this. You've worked hard and been good. It's time to indulge. My American dream, right? Be it food, or spending, or comfort, or squandering time...the message and motivation are the same.  

The voice makes sense to me...partly because it seems logical...cause and effect, right? And partly because I have heard that message all my life as a middle-class American. Mostly, I believe it because I like a justified indulgence. 

But my American dream needs to be continually exposed in the light of the gospel. I'm beginning to recognize the arrogance of a selfish perpetuation of a culture of comfort which distracts me from my greater purpose as a follower of Christ.  

This book is an answer to prayer I didn't {and still don't want to} pray: LORD, help me silence the lie of the American dream. 

How do I know it's a lie? Well, if I believe that I deserve anything that God's provision has allowed me to have, what does another mother, who doesn't have access to the same resources, deserve?  Does she deserve struggle and suffering and the gut-eroding fear that she cannot give her children the fulfillment of basic needs?

Why do I have clean water from 3 sources within 10 feet and others have to walk miles to carry filthy water back to their families? {One of my favorite Christian communities, Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has partnered with this clean water program.}

I'm not talking about the consequences of personal choices...I know that enters into the mix. I'm talking about cultural, socio-economic obstacles that are part of this basic as where one is born to the more complex issues of outright injustice.

Our world does not operate on the you get what you deserve principle. The universal question why do bad things happen to good people? continues through the ages. And people who have done unspeakable things have never come to earthly justice. I include myself in the latter.

So, just what am I supposed to do with all this? What do I now?

I don't know...I need to simmer a bit more...and ask some more hard questions of Him and myself.

How much of this do I believe?

How far am I willing to go?

How do I function as a contributing citizen in a system that contradicts my God? The emperor has no clothes.

Not to mention, I know I'm opening myself up to some scrutiny. I am very aware that you may chalk this up to me having an emotional response to tragic stories.  I sound  flaky or condemning. You will be watching am I living? Has my paradigm shifted? How will my fickle flesh feel in a month? Prone to Wander isn't just the blog's my heart status.

Can't I just walk away unaffected? It'd be so much easier. Just don't bug me about this right now, God....

So, do I really want to be different? I am at least shaken out of my slumber, once again.

I don't have answers. But I'm asking for the answers. And my finite brain can begin to analyze the choices I make in my day as extending grace or withdrawing it. I think?

That's about as far as I've gotten in the practical sense. {Oh, and a new practice with the kids that I'll talk about in my next post.} 

How do I sustain? Only by maintaining an awareness of the healing, understanding, and joy He has given me.  Just a moment of remembering my life 15 years ago...wandering in a fog, trying the world's answers to fulfillment. The gratitude floods back. When I recognize the miracles of timing and purpose...the times I trudge through my life focusing on my feet...He is working with precision with this little old life of mine. If I take a moment to look, His fingerprints are all over my life.

I love the Serenity its entirety, but I especially love the lines that are not so well known.

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; 

Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Yes, that is what I believe. He rescued me from the muck of far He has brought me, knowing all the while I will be far from perfect. But I will have love...and I'll never be alone. He has done it for all of us....and now it's my privilege to tell you and others. That's radical.

And there you go, the culmination of my conviction in a {very convoluted} nutshell.

Here's the deal. I have an extra copy of Radical {don't worry, this is a good use of our dollars} and I'd like you to have it. So, leave a comment by Friday evening and I'll choose the winner on Saturday. {Terribly exciting, my first giveaway!}


Abi said...

That book has been popping up EVERYWHERE in my conversations lately. I want to read it- sounds like a dose of just the truth i need;) thank you for your soul-baring vulnerability. thank you for you insight and questions and thoughts, i love you dearly. can't wait to see you and sit down sometime, someday soon;) keep struggling towards Him!

Bekah said...

I'll enter your suh-weet contest! I love all your reflections and your heart to "get more light" on this. Thanks for challenging me!