Today’s convocation speaker, Afshin Ziafat, reminded me of a Dr. David Platt. It was not his etiquette, nor his manner of speech, it was simply the impassioned burden the Holy Spirit had birthed in his soul: escaping the mediocrity of Christianity, and realizing the cost of discipleship.
I retraced a journal entry I wrote the evening after I heard David Platt speak at convocation, this is what a portion of it read:
This morning I heard the spirit of God. It was disguised in the voice of man by the name of David Platt. I had previously read his best selling book entitled Radical, and was notably excited to hear him bring the Word live. He took the podium, almost seeming nervous, and the next words out of his mouth would explain his restlessness. In a dull-tone whisper Platt expressed how he was in over his head. This is a man who has more doctorates, training, and experience that would qualify any man to stand upon LIberty’s stage, and he first notes his unworthiness. My jaw dropped. This man understood what it meant to have a Christ-centric focus in life, negating his own accolades in utter awe of the power and grace of his creator and savior.
His each sentence was laced with conviction and passion, stirring within my heart the need to mobilize my faith. The joy of my personal salvation compounded with the billions of lost souls on this planet created in me a restless pursuit. It led me on a trail of motivation, realizing that I do not sacrifice anything for Christ. What do I give up for Christ? What is Christ costing me? How can I be so comfortable in my life while I claim to have Christ, who said he came to bring a sword and not peace, indwelling within me?
We have bought into a systematic, narcissistic, comfortable form of Christianity, becoming idolators to a more palatable gospel. We have taken God and formed Him into our image; we have things reversed. We made Christianity into our weekly admission rather than our grace-given identity. We have sold out, put on a masterful charade, and all of this in the name of Christ.
Where is the cost? Would we have followed Jesus if the first thing He told us was to hate our father and mother? The Christian culture today is raised with the ideology: the more people to hear, the more loving the message. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke His most harshest and loaded statements with immense crowds surrounding Him. Think of the man or woman who came to hear Jesus, the man everyone was blabbering about, speak for the first time, and the first words out of His mouth were, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Here is the first-time hearer, and Jesus is demanding the cross, the most excruciating form of execution, as a prerequisite to his discipleship.
We are caught up in living by sight. We see the crowds, and we see the numbers, and we become cautious. But if we commit to faith, in doing an act where we will only succeed if God’s Holy Spirit rains down, we are doing what Paul calls,’walking by faith.’ Living by sight all dwindles down to comfortability; it is more comfortable to live by faith, to not sacrifice our dignity for God. It is more comfortable to preach how Christ can save you of your sins, without mentioning the cost of following Him.
I see it as this: if I can be perfectly content and rest in my walk with God, my Theology is wrong. If I have a doxology that supposes I am glorying God to His potential, then my view of God is severely distorted. When the rich man came to Jesus proclaiming that He had followed the ten commandments and presumedly done all that was required of salvation, Jesus commanded an action that would cost the man something. When we think we have done enough, thought enough, or believed enough, Christ shatters our man-made machine until we see that we are nothing apart from God.
Jesus paid it all, but to follow Him costs my life.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
– Philippians 1:21