Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)
I started reading a book a few months ago called, Radical, by David Platt. The subtitle to the book is “Taking back your faith from the American Dream.” Platt contends that we as Americans have remade Jesus into our own image. We think that as Christians, He will shower us with blessings and that prosperity is the mark of success both in life and in faith. Instead, Platt says that Jesus never promised us prosperity here on this earth. He says instead that we are blessed with God’s grace which is a whole lot different than earthly possessions and that we are called to glorify God no matter what the circumstances of our lives. He notes that while people think that they should be out earning money to have more and more, we should be cultivating relationships with people. And not just people exactly like us, but the poor, the needy, the persecuted and the downtrodden. He states that churches have become a place to hide from the world when in fact, Jesus commanded us to go out into the world. Platt doesn’t say anything that I haven’t read in the Bible or heard in church, but he goes beyond intellectual knowledge and challenges the reader to test what they believe and then, act upon Jesus’ commands. It was while I was reading Radical that I did several things out of character for me. I volunteered to teach the book this summer in Sunday School, I signed up to do the art show to raise money for the Malnutrition Center and I hosted a tea to generate interest in missions among the women of my church. And then, about halfway through the book, when I was being stretched out of my comfort zone and feeling like my nice little life was being challenged, I lost Radical. Actually, I think I might have thrown it away when cleaning. I vaguely remember putting some things in the trash and think the book was among them. Did I really want to get rid of it? Maybe. But, in a little over a month, I will be leading discussions about the book. I got another copy and the audio version. Now I am back to considering Platt’s final challenge. He asks us to join “The Radical Experiment,” which changes the entire focus on how we live and how we look at money, possessions and relationships. That led to a dream I had this weekend. I was back in Guatemala. It was so real that when I woke, I could feel the touch of the children on my hands. And all I could think about was Ana Rosia, a six month old baby with a cleft palate who weighed less than ten pounds and died last week from starvation. What could I do? Yesterday, I signed up to go back. I leave in October. And I will be going again in March. It is my own version of the Radical Experiment. What will be yours?