What Are You Pretending Not to Know?

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

Published by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Servant of Jesus. Truth-teller. Leader. Mentor. Author of Books.

7 thoughts on “What Are You Pretending Not to Know?

  1. love your passion on this, Natasha! I share it with you. We live in a global village. They are our neighbors! Another great book along these lines is “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.

  2. Ooh, I LOVED “Radical,” and I loved this post! The title got me for a different reason, though–I’ve been talking and blogging a lot about domestic and sexual violence lately, and my catchphrase has become “who is your silence protecting?” I think this kind of “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” Christianity is WAY too common, and impacts the way we treat our neighbors globally AND locally. We need to speak up and take action!

    1. Jenny, I am sure that the topic of domestic and sexual violence is taboo in the church. I’m so glad that you are lending your voice to the conversation. Readers please check out Jenny’s blog at http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com/ Love your passion to live and share the gospel – ministry in action. Let’s talk about a guest feature on my blog. Blessings, Natasha

  3. Natasha, I wrote a reply but lost it!

    In short, we do have blind spots here in America regarding our materialism. What we can do to reverse the tide is to start right where we are, with where God has placed us without denigrating our positions as not “lofty enough”. Then we can keep reaching out to others in love to share our resources and our Lord with them.

    I just wanted to ask a question: when you use the word “justice”, is this linked to the “new theology” and humanistic political movements? I feel that we have to be careful in using that word as it has been ripped off by the “new theology” movements that have based their own thinking and faith on irrationality. (i.e., Jim Wallis, parts of the Roman Catholic church, some other “Protestant” denominations, etc.) I mean, these are the same folks who are fine living a tension that their own belief in Christ is okay while acknowledging that other people may find other truths. And they also think the Bible is fallible, and they will only adopt parts and words that sound good to their own causes.)

    1. Greetings,

      When I say the word “justice,” I mean what God requires of his people as indicated in Micah 6:8 and the through the life and teachings of Jesus. I have written several posts about justice, and I’m sure many will pop up if you search “justice” at the top right of the page. Of note, I believe there is a post titled, “Justice: Is it Sacred or Secular” that may be of interest and may answer your question more specifically. In short, I believe that biblical issues become political only when God’s Church fail to do what God has required of them, hence his case against Israel in Micah. The Bible is infallible, on that I will stand.

      Blessings Natasha

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