When I first read Radical by David Platt I thought “YES, THIS GUYS NAILS IT.” And in many places he does make some very good points and provides as a jolt to the system for our need for Christ. But I am hoping I am not the only one who tried to do the radical challenge and ended up feeling like a failure. I couldn’t successfully do the radical challenge and quite honestly got burned out by it.
I believe I may have mentioned this in an earlier post but I wanted to revisit something that haunted me for some time. I am free of the story I am about to give, and all has been forgiven but I believe that my experience may help someone else who has, is currently, or will go through something like this. I pray that God will use this to help you in however way He chooses.
I had to write a review of “Radical” in school and I explained in the review that I submitted how God’s grace has set me free from the feeling that I “need” to live a radical life for Christ because He offers me His radical life through the gift of God’s grace.
Quick Disclaimer: I admire the work of my professor. He has done wonderful things in teaching the word of the Lord. This is not a bash on him and it is not my intent to cast judgment on him. This is not what this post is about. End of disclaimer.
In the class there seemed to be an underlying theme different than what I had recently discovered, devoured in the teachings of that Liberate Crowd. You know, people like Tullian Tchividjian, Steve Brown, Elyse Fitzpatrick and so many others. I received an A on my paper, but when reading the comments on what I had submitted, a lump in my throat formed and I felt cold all over as I read these words:
“Your paper is well-written with careful critical analysis . . . as I have come to expect from you. I am glad that on your personal journey you have come to experience God’s grace rather than be caught up in trying to somehow please God. But, perhaps in your freedom you can now examine the passionate human response that God’s grace deserves. Yes, His grace is completely amazing and freely given. We stand and rest in His grace every day. Our surrender and service are a response to this grace which is so great. I believe that a true experience and response to God’s grace, and an intimate relationship with Him, will lead us to Romans 12:1,2 where we are commanded to offer our lives as living sacrifices to God. Not to earn His grace, but to respond to it. I also believe this is what Platt is saying in his book.”
The sound of my heart beating out of my chest.
The dark room that I am in just got darker. No doors. No windows. Just the pitch blackness of my ability and my performance.
The thought of delivering “the passionate human response that God’s grace deserves.”
The loss of breath. Fear permeates the air.
The realization that I am not able to deliver such a response. The realization that such a response means perfection which I am laughably incapable of. I literally laugh at the thought of it. I can never nor will I ever be able to provide the response that God’s grace deserves.
I find myself backed into a corner in my cell. Like a wretch I cower at such a demand of perfection. What do I do? What can I do? Is there anything I can say, is there anything I can promise, is there anything I can try other than beg? Broken by this demand of perfection I cry out;
“Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips! I am undone! Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
Thanks be to God, Jesus enters the room finding me huddled in a heap in my corner. I beat my chest and with tears streaming down my face look into his and say “I am a sinner…have mercy on me!” Jesus rushes towards me and clings to me greater than the fear of hopelessness in my lackluster performance. Jesus liberates me from the slavery of Sin and the Law. My body no longer feels the chains of either but the air of grace. My joy is in knowing that I can put my hope in Who Jesus is and what He has done and not in the hopeless slack effort of failing any and every attempt at providing the human response that God’s grace deserves.
I can never hope to offer up a response worthy of such a gift.
The deserving 100% passionate human response to this gift of grace was given by a man who was also 100% God.
It wasn’t me and it wasn’t you.
Not the passion of Zack but the passion of Christ.
My response to God’s grace is a victory shout and a 10th Leper offering of thanks.
I have always had an intimate relationship with Christ. He is in me and I am in Him. This intimate relationship never loses its intimacy because of who I am and what I can’t do. This intimate relationship is fixed because of who Jesus is and what He has done.
A living sacrifice does not struggle to earn the grace that it has been given. A sacrifice is dead. I believe Paul’s follow up to Romans 12:1, 2 would be found in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I need to offer myself as a living sacrifice. That means letting go of the hope that I had in ever performing at the level of surrender, the level of service, the level of gratitude that grace deserves. My only hope in responding to the demand of the law is in Christ Alone. Christ Alone is your only hope too. My new nature in Christ does indeed lead me to want to obey. But my hope is not in those moments when I obey. My hope is in Christ who has already obeyed and fulfilled the law for me.
God’s love for me was never dependent on how I would respond to His gift of grace. God’s love for me is eternal and without conditions. He pours out His grace over sin zombie me without asking and without expectations.
Grace is grace not because of what we have, are, or will do but simply because God loves those whom He pours His grace on.
Salvation comes to sinners by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone all done for the glory of God alone.
You see, it was never about your glory, effort, or response in the first place.
Show me a sinner who has been drowned by God’s grace and I will show you a sinner whose response is “wow” and “thank you.”
Our failure is not in failing to give a deserving response to God’s grace. Our failure is in not resting in the hope that we have in the person and finished work of Christ Alone.
It Is Finished.
Funny…grace that demands a response is no longer grace.