If you’re fairly comfortable with your life and feel pretty pleased with your Christian walk, I dare you to read Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. If you’re not comfortable with your life and faith and aren’t sure what’s off, you should also read it. And if you’re not American don’t be put off by the subtitle, I think the book really speaks to Western culture in general, not just America.
At root the book is a challenge to break out of our complacency in accepting Western cultural norms of success and consumption and instead to look carefully at what we’re commanded in Scripture, which is quite radical when you get right down to it.
It’s sobering to be confronted with the ways in which my views mimic the culture rather than the Bible. I was challenged and convicted on many, many points throughout the book. Although I can see how different people would feel compelled by different aspects of the book, I don’t think any person living in the Western world could read this book honestly and openly and not come away with at least a little bit of their mindset changed. And that’s a good thing.
What would it mean to break out of our materialism and complacency and have our attitudes and hearts changed to be more like God’s? What would it mean if we were…
- Truly working to see God glorified in all the nations rather than acting like the Great Commission is optional or only applicable to our own nation?
- Actually trusting and relying on God rather than ourselves for provision?
- Really having God’s heart for our brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted, suffering and starving, and for the 1.5 billion people around the world who are unreached (no measurable indigenous group of believers) or unengaged (no church activity at all actively working with their people group) with the gospel?
- Willing to give sacrificially of our money, our time, and our safety to serve others?
In many ways, the western church has grown comfortable with “casual Christianity” that lets us look pretty much exactly like everyone else and stay safe while over a billion people live and die without ever hearing the gospel, and while even more people starve and suffer. The book confronted me and left me feeling pretty sickened by my own callousness.
So what’s the remedy? The author gives examples of how people in his church have responded to conviction. Some have sold everything and gone overseas to do missions. Others have continued in their callings at home but had their lives changed by committing to short-term missions and sacrificial support of people groups around the world. Still others have left their comfort zones and are pouring out time and resources to meet needs in their communities and bring the gospel to hurting people closer to home. The book ends with a challenge to spend a year:
- Praying for the entire world (using a resource like Operation World), praying that God would raise up workers to take the gospel to the world, and praying honestly that God would show you how he wants you to serve and teach others.
- Saturating your mind with God’s word so that you can bring the gospel to our culture and the cultures of the world.
- Sacrificing your money for specific, gospel-centered, church-focused works.
- Committing yourself deeply to a local church body, and to making your church a multiplying community.
I found so much to pray about and think about in Radical that it’s been hard for me to boil it down into a short review. I would absolutely highly recommend this book, and would love to hear from you if you’ve read it or read it in the future.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.