My friend Sarah has been baptized three times.
The first time she was an infant, wrapped in folds of white lace. But Sarah’s family did not attend church regularly when she was a child, and so—when she started dating a nice Christian boy in high school—she made another public profession of faith and received the waters again. In blue jeans this time. Maybe it felt like—to my friend—the sacrament expired with the relationship, because she underwent baptism once more in her late twenties prior to getting married to a different fellow. This time she wore a special robe designed for the occasion.
“I just wanted to be sure,” she told me recently, as we chatted over coffee.
We didn’t discuss the theology of such a thing and I didn’t ask exactly what she was trying to be sure of, but I knew what she meant. I’ve only been baptized once, but—according to bestselling author and pastor David Platt—Sarah’s question is one I should ask myself. In fact, he says, we all should think deeply on it.
Are you sure?
On Monday mornings in March we’re going to be discussing Platt’s new book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. This week we are discussing the first three chapters.
In chapter one Platt says Follow Me represents the next step after his previous book Radical.
[In] Radical, I sought to expose values and ideas that are common in our culture (and in the church) yet antithetical to the gospel. My aim was to consider the thoughts and things of this world that we must let go of in order to follow Jesus. The purpose of this book, then, is…to move from what we let go of to whom we hold on to…I want to expose what it means to die to ourselves and to live in Christ.
This all sounds well and good but when I read on, I find that David Platt wants to get in my business. This young pastor is shaking up my status quo—he’s making my comfort zone an awfully sticky place to be.
…With good intentions and sincere desires to reach as many people as possible for Jesus, we have subtly and deceptively minimized the magnitude of what it means to follow him. We’ve replaced challenging words from Christ with trite phrases in the church. We’ve taken the lifeblood out of Christianity and put Kool-Aid in its place so that it tastes better to the crowds, and the consequences are catastrophic. Multitudes of men and women at this moment think that they are saved from their sins when they are not. Scores of people around the world culturally think that they are Christians when biblically they are not.
Salvation is about more than intellectual assent, Platt says. Our lives should look very different from that of the rest of the world, he says. And if it doesn’t, then we probably aren’t really followers of Jesus.
It sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Taken out of context Platt’s words can lead us down that slippery slope of dualism. We might be tempted to discount the value of the work of the laity if we stay right there. We might think a call to live in Christ means to leave everything behind, go to seminary or overseas...isn’t that what real ministry is? Yet, in chapter two, Platt says this:
…Jesus is not calling these disciples because of who they are, but in spite of who they are…These men do not warrant Jesus’ pursuit. Yet he comes to them. He walks up to them in the middle of their work, and he invites them to follow him…
Doesn’t he do the same to us today? Doesn’t Jesus call us to follow him in the middle of our work too? This doesn’t mean, as Francis Chan says in the introduction, that every Christian should quit his or her job and move to a foreign country. What it does mean, he goes on to say, is that we need to figure out how to make each day count for his purposes.
We have kingdom work to do. Right in the middle of our every day work. Chan and Platt say that at the root of this is the making of disciples. We’ll talk more about that in coming weeks. Still, I’m not sure I’m going to pass this book on to my friend Sarah. Because I don’t know what comes after a special robe made just for baptism.
Read an interview with David Platt in Leadership Journal and his radical calling.
Watch this video of Frances Chan talking about discipleship.
On Mondays in March we're going to be discussing David Platt's Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. Join us next week as Sheila Seiler Lagrand leads us through chapters four and five. 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!
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