Follow the Leader

Review of Follow Me by David Platt

By COYLE NEAL

David Platt will mess you up. Or at least, his books will. When they’re not convicting you of being a fat, lazy American who doesn’t have much faith but has far too much comfort and stuff, they’re challenging you to live as if you are actually a Christian. In a sense, Radical, Radical Together, and now Follow Me are all extended meditations on 1 John 1:6

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Especially in America, many people claim to be Christians while showing little or no real-world evidence that this claim has any substance. We point to a prayer we said, an aisle we walked, or even a good intention we think we may have had once and say “see? I’m buddies with Jesus, so God has to accept me.” Platt’s challenge is for us to look beyond such shallow and empty words and see that the Christian life is defined by Christ’s call to “follow me.”

Specifically, Platt argues that we should always hold before us the greatness of Jesus:

In a previous book, Radical, I sought to expose values and ideas that are common in our culture (and in the church) yet antithetical to the gospel… The purpose of this book, then, is to take the next step. I want to move from what we let go of to whom we hold on to. I want to explore not only the gravity of what we must forsake in this world, but also the greatness of the one we follow in this world. I want to expose what it means to die to ourselves and to live in Christ. (4)

This greatness is seen, Platt argues in each chapter, in our faith, election, regeneration, obedience, delight in God, worship and church life, and evangelism. In other words, every aspect of our lives should be affected and transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news that He has paid for our sins on the cross and given us His perfect obedience so that we have been adopted into God’s family should work its way through all that we think, say, and do. The fact that so many aspects of our lives are not affected and changed should at the very least convict us to engage in a, well, radical reorientation away from our cultural and sinful patterns and onto the way of life God has called us to live. At the most, it should make us question whether or not we actually do follow Jesus, or are just lying to ourselves and the world.

There’s a chapter in this book to challenge (offend?) everyone. The challenge to live a new life as part of a church will offend lone-ranger Christians who don’t see why they can’t just worship God on their own (chapter 7). The challenge to live a new life in obedience to God’s revealed will is going to offend both the people who think that simply saying a prayer was enough with no follow-up action or lifestyle required (chapter 4), and the people who seek for God’s direct inspiration outside of Scripture even as they refuse to obey the things God has already instructed them to do (chapter 6).

I should also note that unlike many Evangelical pastors, Platt is an excellent writer. His prose flows well and, for all the spiritual challenges it offers, the book is a relatively quick read. Good writing obviously isn’t absolutely necessary for a book of this sort, but it is a nice bonus.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for any Christian who is interested in thinking carefully and well about how our lives should be affected by the Gospel.

This book was read as part of the Patheos book club.

Dr. Coyle Neal lives in Washington DC, where he doesn’t follow Jesus nearly as well as he should.


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