Saturday, August 14, 2010

When Did Love Become Unmoving??

Nick and I are leading our small group through the book "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream", by David Platt. I read this book this summer and it has been really challenging my beliefs and awakening a desire in me to abandon everything and follow Jesus (because, after all, that is what it means to be a "Christian").

We covered chapter one this week entitled "Someone Worth Losing Everything For: What Radical Abandonment To Jesus Really Means." This chapter starts out by asking, "Are you going to believe in Jesus" and if you are, "Are you going to obey Him?"

These are pretty important questions because they are the questions that our entire faith are built on. Do we believe that, "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16) and what does it mean to "believe in something?" The author of Radical explains that there is a difference in "believing" in something with your head and "believing" it in your heart. When you truly believe something, it causes you to act differently. It causes you to "move" in a direction that is more in line with what you "believe." In a Christian's case, this means we are moving closer to Jesus and our lives reflect that through our actions.

Unfortunately, the actions of many Christians, particularly in America, mine included, are not always in line with what we proclaim to "believe." We have Americanized the gospel and made Jesus into someone who looks like us, talks like us and acts like us instead of the other way around. As Platt says, "We've replaced what is radical about our faith with what is comfortable." "We've settled for a Christianity that revolves around ourselves when the central theme of Christianity revolves around abandoning ourselves."

The question asked in our group that was of greatest importance, for us, and for every other Christian and non-Christian in the world was, "what does it really mean to be a Christian and how do you become one?"

For many of us, we were raised in churches where every week there was an alter call and you were instructed to "confess", "repent" and "believe" and you would go to heaven. Pray this prayer, say these words and you'll be saved. While I do believe Ephesians 2:8-9, "it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast", I do not believe that that is the end of our salvation story. Yes, we are saved from our sins through the acceptance of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and not by something we do, but this is the point that so many Christians and churches stall out at.

James 2:14, 26 say, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Our faith in Jesus for our salvation should evoke in us a deep desire to seek God because His gift of grace involves the gift of a changed heart. A heart that should want to know him so much that we abandon all else for Him. We seek to live, love and serve like He did.

So why don't we do just that? Why are we content to sit back and live out our American dreams (or at least attempt to) while all across the world, billions of people don't know the love of Jesus and we don't seem to care. In America, we are blessed to be able to worship, pray, attend church and study the bible whenever we want and with very little sacrifice. There is a perception that there is very little at stake. Honestly the only thing we think is at stake when we do these things is the time we spend while doing them.

The bible has much to say about what is at stake, making our next step in our salvation story crucial. The next step in believing in the gospel of Jesus and His word is obeying it.

To obey God fully means that we have to die to ourselves daily. To truly "follow" Him (and again, isn't that what it means to be a Christian-a "Christ follower"), we have to give up our personal gain, our comfort, and our excuses. We have to choose to join the mission of Jesus and forget about maintaining the status quo, safe, comfortable Americanized Christianity that so many of us have been raised on.

So what is at stake? The stakes are two fold. First, when we choose to hold on to the "treasures" of this world, the "stuff" that we all hold so tightly too, we are trading those treasures for the ones promised in heaven. Even more costly though is the price that the lost, poor and needy pay at the expense of our apathy.

Nearly two thirds of the people in the world today do not know Jesus and this is what the bible says about them (and to those who do not obey Him), "This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

Those are pretty harsh words, but if we believe the bible to be true, then they are true words that should break our hearts for the lost (our neighbors, our friends, our family members, people around the world) and stir us to action.

The poor and the powerless also suffer and for those of us who have been ignoring their cries, the bible says, "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered" (Proverbs 21:13) and even more compelling, to those who do not feed the hungry and clothe the naked, Jesus says, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
So if that doesn't get our attention, who knows what will. Interestingly enough, those verses about being thrown into the eternal fire were not just directed to non-believers. So it stands to be concluded that there is work to be done. Work that we as Christians have been commanded to do:

".. .Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mathew 28:18-20)


" look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27)


If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks. (Deuteronomy 15:7)

I know this post was exceptionally long, but I suspect I'll sleep a lot better tonight after getting all of this out of my head. This video below is a song by Sidewalk Prophets that I love. It is a really bad audio version, but it has the lyrics on it which speak so much to what I've written.

As David Platt writes, "The gospel does not prompt you to mere reflections; the gospel requires a response."

(pause my music at the top of my page)


  1. Wow! After reading this and our study this week my heart is shaking ready to surrender to his perfect will..I want to live differently.. I want to be his example .. you have inspired me so much. I thank everyday that God gave me such a good friend to speak truth to me! I wasn't able to go to church but your words just inspired me to get into the word.. and let his word be the TRUTH in my life! I Love you sister in Christ and can't wait to see what God has in store for us all. Your making a difference and sharing your voice.. thank you

  2. Wonderfully written! I loved your post about homeschooling too. We start on Sept. 1st (give or take a few days, depending on our new arrival). I've been meaning to call you to chat again too. I have some Math and Language Arts/phonics things that you might be interested in? I have extras of them. Hopefully we will talk soon.

  3. Thanks for a great post. Your such an inspiration to me.
    Aunt Debbie

  4. funny... i have this song on cd and have listened to it over and over last year on my way to work, but 2 weeks ago, i really "HEARD" this song and got to thinking about the same things you are talking about. thanks for sharing your heart... you brought up some things that i needed to hear and think upon!

  5. Great post. Just found you blog and the funny thing is just started reading the book 3 days ago. Definitely pushes you to consider what you call following Christ.
    Oh and your children are beautiful!