On Mondays in March we're discussing David Platt's new book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. This is week two.
David Platt writes strong words about the state of Christianity in our society today.
Over half of “Christians” don’t believe that the Holy Spirit or Satan is real, and tens of millions of them don’t believe that Jesus is the divine Son of God. Finally, almost half of “Christians” don’t believe the Bible is completely true.
I put Christians in quotation marks for what I hope by now is an obvious reason: such “Christians” are not Christians… (Page 77; emphasis in original).
This pronouncement stings: some of the people I love best in the world practice this kind of faith. Other passages make me wince, seeing my selfish, earthbound self in his descriptions of tepid, culturally-constituted Christianity. And sometimes, I try to imagine how I reflect both the soft, cozy light of Christ’s mercy and the harsh bare bulb of His justice in my daily life—at the workplace and at home—in a way that might attract someone else to the Lord.
Why even worry about revealing the glare? Plenty of churches don’t, Platt claims. But disciple-making is only legitimate when we’re honest. God is more than enough for anyone. We needn’t sweeten the pot by concealing the demands of Christianity in order to make disciples. Platt reminds us, consistently, that our task is to worship God, not redefine Him. In Chapter Four, he explains that the announcement “I decided to take Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior” denies the obvious. Christ is cosmic Lord regardless of our decisions. With meticulous reference to Scripture, Platt reminds us it’s not about fostering
. . .a customized Christianity that revolves around a personal Christ we create for ourselves . . . In the end, we create a nice, non-offensive, politically correct, middle-class, American Jesus who looks just like us and thinks just like us. (page 76)
When we claim Christ as our King, we promise not only to share in His glory, but also to take up our crosses, die to ourselves, and live for him.
That’s a tough sell in our egocentric society. How do we attract others to discipleship at the cost of their lives?
Chapter Five addresses that tension. Platt recounts his family’s adoption journey, pointing out that while he delights in being a father, his son delights in having a father. The parallel to our relationship with God is clear. According to the author, God is called “Father” only 15 times in the Old Testament; in the New Testament, the count is 165 times.
We’re to love God not only as servants, but as His children. And that, Platt tells us, is delightful:
To come to Jesus is to taste and see that he is good and to find in him the end of all your desires. To believe in Jesus is to experience an eternal pleasure that far outweighs and outlasts the temporal pleasures of this world. (page 109)
This, then, is what I can carry with me as I go about my business—which should really, always, be His business. We’ve all known people who exude a sense of calm, peace, and joy. They attract people the way your porch light draws June bugs.
Platt reminds us that the risks of discipleship are not optional, despite cultural norms that demand we honor diversity by remaining silent about our faith (a curious irony: apparently diversity doesn’t stretch wide enough to admit Christianity). When we make less of ourselves and shine with the joy of our eternal pleasure in Christ—even when crushing deadlines loom, even when someone else claims credit for your hard work—we’re sure to attract a few June bugs. And we may reap opportunities to share our beloved Gospel.
Because if you walk around the office all glowing and joyous like that, somebody will ask you: “What’s your secret?”
Join us next week as David Rupert leads us through chapters six and seven. If you posted at your blog this week, leave us your link in the comments. If not, jump into the discussion anyway! We would love to hear your thoughts. In April we'll be reading and discussing Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families by Ann Kroeker. I'm looking forward to reading that one with you all!