One night in the middle of last summer, I drove to the Barnes and Noble in Asheville, North Carolina. Going to Barnes and Noble is my fallback activity whenever I need an escape from normal life. There’s something about the smell of thousands of books, the aisles that wend their way back to the CD section, the sweet-smelling Starbucks off to the right (I could go on and on) but on this particular night, I remember I was there, searching. Sometimes I go just to look at books, sometimes I go for a particular book or project, but this night, I had no objective, just an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. I browsed for an hour – nothing. The store was about to close and I stopped by the Christian inspiration table near the front. A small orange book caught my eye. It was written by David Platt, the pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, in Birmingham, Alabama. I glanced at the back, decided to buy it on impulse, and rushed out of the store to be back by curfew.
Little did I know the wake-up call I was about to receive. In the front of the book, reviewer Russell Moore says,
“Sometimes people will commend a book by saying, ‘You won’t want to put it down.’ I can’t say that about this book. You’ll want to put it down, many times. If you’re like me, as you read David Platt’s Radical, you’ll find yourself uncomfortably targeted by the Holy Spirit.”
A book you want to put down… sounds like a real treat, right? But like many difficult spiritual teachings, though they are painful to hear, once you realize their purpose of bringing you closer to Christ, life any other way is meaningless. As I made my way through the pages Dr. Platt’s book, I began to re-learn what I had been desperately questioning – my purpose on this earth. It is easy to remember the fundamental commandment to love God and to love our neighbors, but to understand this in practical terms, the Holy Spirit must awaken our souls and propel us into action.
“This is love for God: to obey his commands.” – I John 5:3
For a long time, I thought that doing the things that “good Christians” do (or don’t do) would be “enough.” I went to church, stayed away from parties, read my Bible, etc. But, there was a growing despair within me – surely there was more than this? The message of Radical blew my conception of “enough” out of the water. Jesus is worthy of all our devotion, not just going to church on Sunday and staying out of trouble. There are billions of people who need to hear the gospel and there are billions living in poverty. American Christians are among those who have the voices and resources to alleviate the world’s spiritual and physical pain. They are also among those who turn a blind eye to the world’s suffering.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I went to Barnes and Noble to escape my tiny world – but the Holy Spirit awakened me to the reality of a world much larger than the one in front of my eyes, and imbued me with what I craved – purpose.
This is a link to Dr. Platt’s Radical sermon series, a total of eight messages.
This is a link to Dr. Platt’s book Radical on Amazon.
I will end with the words of Jesus, one of my favorite verses:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” Matthew 16: 24-26
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