My wife grew up on a busy road in South Jersey, surrounded by area businesses. Early in our marriage, we’d stay overnight, and I remember asking her how she could possibly sleep with all the lights and noise. “What noise? What lights?”, she said. After many years, she didn’t even notice them anymore.
I think living in here in America is a lot like my wife’s experience of growing up on that busy road. There are things we don’t even notice anymore because we’re so used to them. One of them, I think, is our pursuit of ‘The American Dream’, the pursuit of a life characterized by ease, affluence and fun without all the hassles of living in a broken world.
Along those lines, I was really challenged by David Platt’s book “Radical.” He shares about the ways Christians can subtly manipulate the gospel to fit our own cultural preferences, and, what we can do about it as we return to a more biblically-based faith.
He closes the book by calling us to consider “The Radical Experiment”, a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that can rekindle our enthusiasm for Christ. Here are the five parts to that challenge:
Over the course of a year,
1 – pray for the entire world (expands our horizons beyond ourselves; can find information online at operationworld.org).
2 – read through the entire bible (exposes us to the transforming power of God’s very own words for us; online bibles at biblegateway.com; many reading plans, with tracking, online at biblereadthrough.com)
3 – sacrifice our money for a specific purpose (because our hearts follow our money; give sacrificially to something specific and gospel-centered through an organization you can trust)
4 – spend time in another context (domestically or internationally, the key is that it’s different from wherever you are – helps us get excited about serving and re-think our own context)
5 – commit our lives to a multiplying community (brings the other components together and connects us to a local expression of God’s people – we can’t follow Christ on our own)
You may notice this sounds a lot like the early church described in Acts 2:42-47. It’s amazing how, so often, the truly radical things are simply a return to where it all started.
As I reflect on my own life, and medical culture, I think these are challenges we desperately need to consider.