Has the Western Church Lost Sight of What It Really Means to Live Radically for Christ?

Question from a Reader:

I am a missionary, and have experienced much hardship in my Christian life, yet am still seeking Jesus through the trials. But it seems many Christians are seeking a life that’s free from danger. I think the following things all influence American churches:

• Desire for a safe, untroubled, comfortable life
• The health and wealth “gospel” heresy
• Regressive clergy

• Being accustomed to comfort
• Aversion to sacrificial living

Sacrificial living has been replaced with people seeking comfort and wealth, and relying on their own abilities to provide those things for themselves. It feels so discouraging. What are your thoughts about the current state of the western church?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

Your observations about the western church are, in my opinion, sadly accurate (and I don’t pretend to be unaffected by them either). These are what Francis Schaeffer boiled down to the twin values of “Personal Peace and Affluence.” I continue to agree with Schaeffer forty years later.

Some of the younger voices such as Francis Chan and David Platt echo a biblical Christianity which now sounds radical to people. Listen to these examples:

  • “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” ― Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
  • “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” ― David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream
  • “Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.” ― Tim Kizziar, quoted by Francis Chan in Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

I wish I had a solution, beyond reading these young “radicals” and praying the western church will rediscover the costs and rewards of discipleship. Perhaps we will, but probably only after persecution seriously kicks in.

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries