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I just finished reading through pastor David Platt's convicting, challenging, and well-written New York Times bestseller, Radical. I am yet again struck by the beauty of the gospel, the commands of Christ to us (His disciples) before leaving this earth, and how the great commission applies to our lives as we seek to take the priceless truth of the gospel to all peoples.
Concerning the spreading of the gospel, what I love about Platt is that he doesn't leave room for dropouts. As followers of Christ we are all eligible for this great mission. No one should be left on the bench while the field is in need of an extra player. And there is a need.
Before Jesus left His disciples, He told them to carry what had been revealed to them, the good news, out to the world. He wasn't asking for volunteers to spread the gospel; it was a command. It is required of us. The body of Christ should be a living, moving community, each of us involved in completing this great and challenging mission.
One major issue confronted by Platt was the complacency of the western American church and the reality that many of us have substituted our time, energy, and devotion toward achieving and living the lavish "American dream" rather then taking up our cross and living a life of radical abandonment for Christ. This is certainly a problem and threat to the lax, "All I need to do is attend Church on Sunday" generation of Christians that I am growing up in today. Disconnected, stagnant churchgoers are a far cry from the dauntless, Word-preaching, on-the-move disciples that we read about in the New Testament.
But this phenomenon isn't necessarily unique to America. What hit me recently was the fact that no matter who or where you are, taking the gospel to the world is always going to be an uncomfortable, risky, challenging thing to do. No matter what century, what people, what situation, we are the same ambassadors to the same world. Whether you come from a suburban neighborhood in the nation of America or an isolated, unknown tribe in the middle of the jungle, the inevitability of persecution, trials, and suffering that Jesus explicitly warned his disciples about is completely, one hundred percent applicable to the age we are living in.
Good examples of the cost of following Christ come from what I have witnessed in my own family's life and our tribal church. If you talked to my parents, you would find that their life as missionaries hasn't been all daisies and roses. Even in my short life I have seen the hardships, experienced the tough times.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. When we go, we go knowing that we have not only been equipped with the Holy Spirit and grace to endure anything that comes our way, but also the most reassuring truth of all, that God's Word does not return void. It will always return with a positive response. If you go, you may not be sure of many things, but you can count on the fact that clear teaching of God's Word will produce believers. Someone, somewhere will be impacted for eternity.
After the church was born, they themselves struggled with the desire to reach out to other neighboring villages that had no way of hearing the gospel. It was awesome to watch some of our initial Bible teachers eventually ignite a passion to share this new and priceless message of salvation with their families and friends who were scattered throughout distant villages in the jungle. It wouldn't be easy. There were many factors that could detour people from wanting to ever commit to such a task.
But the same passion that had brought us to our tribal friends had now been passed on to them, new missionaries! That is the beauty of the gospel! It isn't meant to be held on to. If we are to reach and preach to people from every tongue, tribe, and nation, there must be men and women who are willing to go, even when things get tough.
Through much trial, sacrifice, and hard work (not to mention the Lord's grace!), other people from the same people group have heard the clear teaching of the gospel and have been saved! Indeed, when the going gets tough, it is fully worth going.
This is the kind of mentality that Platt encourages for the church in his book.
So who will go? It could very well be you. Though not everyone has been intended for the mission work I describe, there are countless other slots to be filled, each equally important if the body of Christ is to work together to see the world transformed for His Kingdom.
Don't get too comfortable. We are nomads for Christ, really. I have been taught that if you are moving and working hard for the Lord, it is less likely for you to swerve off track and slide into complacency, maybe even to the extent of chasing the American Dream.
So in closing, my initial response after reading through Platt's book is a desire in my own heart, not to squander away my time, energy, and opportunities on frivolous fantasies, but to use my life in the days and years to come for things that are eternally impactful.
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