Jesus traveled through all the towns and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Matthew 9:35-38 (NLT)
So, what is the radical experiment? David Platt is his book, Radical, challenges us to take one year and change the way we live. He suggests one year because it may take that long for us to see the results of our efforts. Real benefits come from long term commitments. Look at the length of school, athletic training, and musical practice for example. He also says that the time span of one year allows us to make choices that we may not be able to sustain for longer than a year. Then, during that year, Platt dares us to do five things:
1. Pray for the entire world. In Matthew 9, the first thing that Jesus asks the disciples to do when faced with the multitudes of needy people around them was to pray. Not only for those who are sick or hurting, but for people to be stirred to go and minister to them. When we pray, not only does God open our eyes to ways that we can help, but when changes come, He is gloried. We remember that it was to Him that we asked for intercession. Platt suggests using the guide by Patrick Johnstone to help us focus our prayers on the many countries that we may have never heard of. http://www.operationworld.org/ has an online resource that you can use.
2. Read through the entire Word. Whether you go from Genesis to Revelation or whether you mix up chapters and books, there are many reading plans that will take you all the way through the Bible in one year. http://www.biblegateway.com/ is a good one to start. To be true followers of Christ, we cannot sustain ourselves on one minute devotionals or Sunday morning sermons. In order to know God’s voice, we need to be saturated in His Word.
3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Not all of us are called to sell everything we have and give it all to the poor. But, all of us are called to do something. Our hearts follow our money. If all of our money is tied up in things to benefit ourselves, guess where our hearts are? Platt calls us to set a cap on our lifestyles. To eliminate some luxuries or withhold the purchase of future luxuries to intentionally sacrifice the resources that we have. Some of us are not living a luxurious lifestyle by American standards and are barely getting the bills paid. But, if we compare our standard of living to that of the rest of the world, there are things that all of us can give up in order to help someone else who has so much less.
4. Spend your time in another context. Not everyone is called to go overseas to do mission work, but everyone has people in need in their own backyards. I just read an article talking about the high number of children in rural Kentucky who are malnourished. Children are starving in America, and I bet that there is a hungry child in your own community. Look around you and see how you can help. Did you know that there are children whose only nourishing meals are the ones that they get at school? Organizations pack backpacks with meals that they can take home on Friday so they have something to eat on the weekend. If your community doesn’t do it, why not be the one to start such a program? Be a mentor, read a book to a child struggling to read, collect food for a homeless shelter, teach someone to write a resume, the list of ways you can help are numerous. And remember, you are only committing for one year. (If you can stop at the end of twelve months!)
5. Commit your life to a multiplying community. Join a church. I don’t care what the denomination, but find a group of like minded believers to worship with, serve alongside, and fellowship with. There is strength in the body of Christ and in this journey, you need people to help you and you need to be able to help others, too.
It’s only for a year, but if you do these five things, your life will be changed and the world around you will be different, too. We cannot fix everything that is wrong, but we can make a difference to one person at a time. Jesus started with twelve disciples. Twelve men changed the world. Think what could happen if we follow their example.