Why Radical?By David Burnette
Read below for more on David Platt’s answer to the question, “Why Radical?”
I want to be a part of the accomplishment of the Great Commission. That’s the short answer I would give if someone asked me, “Why Radical?” God desires for His gospel to be known and His glory to be praised in all nations. And Christ has commanded us to fulfill this God-exalting purpose among every people group on the planet. How? We make disciples. No matter the sacrifice. We go to them, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything He has commanded. And we keep doing this until the gospel has been proclaimed to all nations. Then the end will come.
For any and every follower of Christ, that’s a purpose worth giving our lives to. We were created for something so much greater, so much deeper, and so much more fulfilling than having a nice job (not that jobs are bad), raising a decent family (not that this is bad, either), and attending a good church (as a pastor, I definitely wouldn’t say that’s a bad idea). But there’s more. There’s so much more. God has given every follower of Christ gifts, skills, passions, resources, and, most importantly, His very presence so that we might be a part of the advancement of His kingdom on earth in anticipation of our King from heaven.
Yet, we are subtly and dangerously tempted to settle for less than this. We have taken the costly and radical command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and morphed it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location. As a result, if you ask individual Christians today what it means to make disciples, you will likely get jumbled thoughts, ambiguous answers, and probably even some blank stares.
That’s where I was once—and to some extent where I am still. The more I read the Gospels, the more I marvel at the simple genius of how Jesus lived and what Jesus did. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, He walked through the streets and byways of Israel looking for a few men. Don’t misunderstand me—Jesus was anything but casual about His mission. He was initiating a revolution, but His revolution would not revolve around the masses or the multitudes. It would not revolve around acquiring a certain position. Instead, it would revolve around a few chosen people. He would intentionally shun titles, labels, plaudits, and popularity in His plan to turn the course of history upside down. All He wanted was a few men who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did, and serve as He did. He only needed to revolutionize the hearts of a few, empowering them by His Spirit, so they would impact the world.
Jesus lived, died, and was raised for the glory of God in all nations. Yet during His earthly ministry, Scripture indicates that Christ spent more time with this small group of disciples than with anyone else on the planet. This is astonishing when you really think about it. At the end of the Son of God’s time on earth, He had staked everything on His relationships with twelve men—eleven when you consider Judas’ role. These eleven guys were the small group responsible for carrying on everything Jesus had begun. Before ascending into heaven, He gathered them around Himself and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). After intentionally spending His life on earth with these eleven men, Jesus told them, “Now you go out and do the same with others.” The mega-strategy of Jesus: make disciples.
And God intends for this command to govern every follower of Christ. Every disciple is created, crafted, blessed, and intended by God to be a disciple-maker. No Christian is excluded from this mission (as if we would want to be!). You don’t need to have inordinate skill or unusual abilities to make disciples. You don’t need to be a successful pastor or a charismatic leader to make disciples. You don’t need to be a great communicator or an innovative thinker to make disciples. All you need is Christ, His Word, His Spirit, and His people.
Which brings us back to where we began. Why Radical? I am firmly convinced that Jesus’ charge to make disciples is intended to be at the heart of the local church. I want to pastor a local church that is radically abandoned to this commission, and I want to serve other local bodies of believers who are committed to this command as well. I want to be a part of providing free resources that are biblically faithful, theologically sound, practically beneficial, easily accessible, multi-lingual, and cross-cultural. I hope and pray that these resources will fuel disciple-making relationships through churches around the world. The whole purpose of Radical is to encourage and to equip Christians in the context of local churches to make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples who will make disciples…until every people group has heard the gospel and our all-satisfying, grave-conquering King receives the praise that He is due.