Radical, David Platt

I absolutely love this passage from this book. I have narrowed it down a bit in order to keep the length down, but you'll get the point. So good.

"We all have blind spots. Areas in our lives that need to be uncovered so we can see correctly and adjust our lives accordingly. But they are hard to identify. Often others can see them in us, and we rely on friends to point them out. But the reality is, even then we have a hard time recognizing them. We don't want to admit they exist..often until it's too late. I can think of at least one glaring blind spot in American Christian history. Slavery. How could Christians who supposedly believed the gospel so easily rationalize the enslavement of other human beings? Churchgoers with good intentions worshiping together every Sunday and reading the Bible religiously all week long, all the while using God's word to justify treating men, women, and children as property to be used or abused.

They actually thought they were being generous when they gave their slaves an extra chicken at Christmas. This frightens me. Good intentions, regular worship, and even study of the Bible do not prevent blindness in us. I can live my Christian life and even lead the church while unknowingly overlooking evil.

Today more than a billion people in the world live and die in desperate poverty. They attempt to survive on less than a dollar per day. Close to two billion others live on less than two dollars per day. That's nearly half the world struggling today to find food, water, and shelter with the same amount of money I spend on french fries for lunch.

More than 26 thousand children today will breathe their last breath due to starvation or preventable disease. Suddenly I began to realize that if I have been commanded to make disciples of all nations, and if poverty is rampant in the world to which God has called me, then I cannot ignore these realities. Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Chris to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry. If I am going to address urgent spiritual need by sharing the gospel or building up the body around the world, then I cannot overlook dire physical need in the process.

Frighteningly, I have turned a blind eye to these realities. I practically ignore these people. Literally millions are dying in obscurity and I have enjoyed my affluence while pretending they don't exist. But they do exist. The book of proverbs warns about the curses that come upon those who ignore the poor. The prophets warn of God's judgment and devastation for those who neglect the poor. Jesus pronounces woes upon the wealthy who trust in their riches, and James tells those who hoard their money and live in self-indulgence to "weep and wail because of the misery that is coming" upon them. In a humbling passage, Jesus says to those who turn away from him by ignoring the physical needs of his people, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

Now, I immediately want to guard against a potential serious misunderstanding in this chapter. The bible nowhere teaches that caring for the poor is a means by which we earn salvation. The means of our salvation is faith in Christ alone, and the basis of our salvation is the work of Christ alone. We are not saved by caring for the poor, and one of the worst possible responses to this chapter would be to strive to care for the poor in order to earn salvation or standing before God.

Yet, while caring for the poor is not the basis of our salvation, this does not mean that our use of wealth is totally disconnected. Indeed, caring for the poor (among other things) is evidence of our salvation. The faith in Christ that saves us from our sins involves an internal transformation that has external implications. According to Jesus, you can tell someone is a follower of Christ by the fruit of in his or her life, and the writers of the NT show us that fruit of faith in Christ involves material concern for the poor. If there is no sign of caring for the poor in our lives, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts.

Some might consider this is taking things too far, but consider another scenario. Imagine a man who claims to have Christ in his heart but indulges in sexual activity with multiple partners every week. When he is confronted by Scripture about his sin, he nevertheless continues in willful sexual immorality. He disobeys Christ persistently with no sign of remorse, contrition, or conviction. So is he really a Christian? We are not his judge, and the sexual immorality would not need to stop for him to be saved per say, but he needs to trust in Christ, which will result in a changed heart and a desire to obey Christ in this area of his life."