I should have known it would cause me trouble. When an entire issue of "Mission Frontiers" magazine is devoted to reflecting on and reacting to one author's book, that's a serious book. I should have read the magazine, noted the author and skimmed the outline of his book. But no, I ordered it from Amazon and received a copy within the week.
David Platt, pastor of Brook Hills Church in Birmingham, Alabama does an autopsy on the American dream as it has become embedded in our church culture. It's not an angry socialist rant, but a steady gaze at Jesus and asking "how did we stray so far?" Here are some of the poignant quotes:
"Was I going to believe Jesus or obey Jesus?"
"We were settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves."
"Do we really believe he (Jesus) is worth abandoning everything for?"
"Accept him? Do we really think Jesus needs our acceptance?Don't we need him?"
"Jesus is no longer one to be accepted or invited in but one who is infinitely worthy of our immediate and total surrender."
"The goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God."
"God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision."
"We live in a church culture that has a dangerous tendency to disconnect the grace of God from the glory of God."
"God loves me is not the essence of biblical Christianity. God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory and his greatness known among all nations. Now God is the object of our faith, and Christianity centers around him. We are not the end of the gospel; God is."
The book is filled with insightful and disturbing thoughts about how tame we have made the gospel and the church. But the most challenging part of the book his Platt's invitation to a one-year, 5 part plan:
1. Pray for the whole world
2. Read through the whole Bible
3. Sacrifice money for a specific gospel purpose
4. Spend time in another context (cross-cultural)
5. Commit yourself to a multiplying community