Radical Chapter 6
Conviction. Heartbreak. Those are the two words that come to mind as I reflect on the content of this chapter. I think about the focus of today’s American church and how we respond to international missions and justice efforts, and I am reminded of a question posed in a book that I read recently, “What are we pretending not to know?”
The Bible is quite clear about the responsibility of the Church to respond to the poor/needy, orphaned, widowed, and oppressed. Some may be aware of the children dying of famine in Somalia, women and children being raped in the Congo, sex trafficking of women and children throughout the world, the number of families that go without clean drinking water or food, those who live on less than $2 U.S./day, and those innumerable souls who die from curable diseases every year, yet by and large, these conversations are not happening in our churches.
Instead we have conversations about our kids, church programs, what’s going on in our little bubbles. Either we don’t know or pretend not to know what is going on in other parts of the world. This is a travesty in today’s American church.
Consider the following statements raised by Platt after he was confronted with the above issues:
- Part of our sinful nature instinctively chooses to see what we want to see and to ignore what we want to ignore. I can live my Christian life and even lead the church while unknowingly overlooking evil (pg 108).
- I have turned a blind eye to these realities. I have practically ignored these people, and I have been successful in my ignorance because they are not only poor but also powerless. Literally millions of them are dying in obscurity, and I have enjoyed my affluence while pretending they don’t exist. But they do exist. Not only do they exist, but God takes very seriously how I respond to them (pg 109).
Platt continues with a very alarming statement that, “Regardless of what we say or sing or study on Sunday morning, rich people who neglect the poor are not the people of God. [They only] pretend that [they] are the people of God (pg 115).”
Why does he make this statement? Well, partly because the Scriptures draw this conclusion in James 2:14-19 and 1 John 3:16-18, but also because of the inheritance that we have received in Christ Jesus. Once we are saved, we receive all of the covenantal blessings that God promised to Abraham in the book of Genesis. Those blessings include in verse 12:4, that “all people on earth will be blessed through you [Abraham and his lineage to which we are heirs through Christ Jesus].” We have a responsibility to make disciples and bless all nations, and we as God’s Church need to take our responsibilities seriously.
In spite of our current economic situation, America is still in “the top 15 percent of the world’s people for wealth (pg 115).” American Christians cannot continue to ignore the plight of the poor, both in our country and abroad. This topic is critical for discussion and action. In my personal option, this is a chapter that every Christian in the American church needs to read. If someone doesn’t get the book, I highly recommend going to a book store and taking a few minutes to sit and read Chapter 6.
I do feel it important to point out, like Platt did in the chapter, that wealth in and of itself is not bad. Money is a needed resource in our lives. It is the love of money that is evil (1 Tim 6:10). People often incorrectly quote the first part of that verse and leave out the second part completely which states, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” This is a warning!
So the sinful issue is the love of money especially when we place our love for money above our need for God. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money (Matthew 6:24).” If I asked most American Christians whether they love money more than they love God, I suspect that most of them would respond that they do not. If we had the ability to inventory their monthly spending, however, I believe that reality would tell a different story.
If you are interested in Bible teachings concerning money and possessions, please pick up and let’s discuss one of our previous books, Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle. David Platt also shares teachings, articles, books, and links regarding possessions at www.radicalthebook.com.
I’ll close with one of Platt’s questions, “Is materialism a blind spot in American Christianity today (pg 111)?” If not, why not? If so, what can we do to reverse the tide and lead the effort in addressing these statistics concerning the poor?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011