Radical by David Platt: One Year Later

I’ve noticed a spike in traffic to my book review of Radical, by David Platt. This makes me unbelievably happy, because it means that somewhere there are folks out there who are just discovering the journey to being a radical Christian, a Christian whose life is sold out for the kingdom.

So for those of you I thought it would be interesting to look back on my year post-Radical (the book, not the concept!) and see whether or not the book actually did impact my life like I thought it would. Here were David Platt’s goals for the one year challenge:

I know it is kind of skipping ahead, but do you want to hear the one year challenge?

  1. Pray for the entire world.
  2. Read through the entire Bible in one year.
  3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose.
  4. Spend your time in another context.
  5. Commit your life to multiplying community.

I looked at that list last year and quaked. I look at that list this year and quake. But not quite as much. So in the spirit of utter transparency, here’s how my year went in light of the one year challenge.

  1. Pray for the entire world. I’m tempted to say, “Yes, of course I did. Lord, heal the entire world.” But the kind of country by country praying that David Platt encourages fell by the wayside after about two weeks. Which, not coincidentally, is about the length of time most New Year’s resolutions last. What did remain for me, however, was a focus of praying for the countries with which I came in contact. When a piece of news hit the broadcasts, I would go to the Operation World website to read about that country’s challenges and pray for them. A friend has left to travel the world fighting human trafficking, and every country she goes to also gets researched. So bottom line on challenge number 1? I’d give myself a solid B-.
  2. Read the Bible through in one year. This challenge alone has changed my life. I found a daily reading plan online that separates the Bible into genre types (wisdom literature, history, prophecy, gospels etc.). Every day you read a different type of genre. By following the plan for a year I have, indeed, read the Bible in a year and am onto my next year. Now there may be a few dropped days, but most of the time I made those up. The day you read the Psalms is usually pretty light, so I used it for makeup days. Part way through through the year I began reading with my journal open and my ears more open than ever before. Transformational. Now, this reading is the first thing I do when I flop into my soft chair at Starbucks. In a way, God, is my morning coffee date! Bottom line on this one? A+.
  3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose. Sacrifice? Yes, we’ve intentionally denied ourselves some of what we would have previously spent, and have chosen to use it for kingdom purposes. But after a year, I can’t call it sacrifice anymore. It’s an amazing privilege. We have not narrowed our giving to a specific purpose, though I notice “themes” in our giving choices. There have been some other really cool decisions in light of radical generosity in our lives, too, but I’m not going to discuss them here. Bottom line? An A, but I have a huge desire for extra credit!
  4. Spend your time in another context. Nope. Failed. Some of my family succeeded in this one, but not me. With this one exception: I did choose to get out of my contexts in my own culture around town at times. Still, not enough. This needs to be a goal for next year. The best I can say is that Radical opened my eyes to my ethnocentricity (big word!) and to the fact that I have NOT gotten out of my home context in a very long time. Maybe that’s progress, but I still give myself an F.
  5. Commit your life to multiplying community. Multiplying community IS my life. It’s what I love to do. Over the course of the year David and I have noticed that one of our strengths seems to be connecting people, whether it’s across church campuses, across the community, our across the country. I expect to see more of that in the years to come as we personally transition from one phase of life to another. Bottom line? Let’s say a B+.

So how is that? There’s so much more that I would like to do, so many ways I let myself down this year. But many of those action points can be directly traced back to reading Radical. For one book (among so many that I read day in and day out!) to actually effect a change in my day to day habits is a stunning achievement. Even in the areas I’ve not done as well as I might, there is an awareness of a still, small voice reminding me that there is more to life than my day to day concerns.

Getting ready to read Radical? Go for it! Even the smallest changes you make in your Christian life will push you toward being a Radical. But there’s a warning: you will never shop the same, eat the same, read the same, watch tv the same, or even travel the same. Be ready for the adventure!

By Marla Saunders

I am passionately devoted to living my life in the places God has given me. Over the years those places have changed: from homeschooler to businesswoman, from consumer to storyteller. These days I'm focusing on building a new business and figuring out what it means to do everything with integrity and informed by faith.