I recently finished reading through David Platt’s Radical. The subtitle of the book reveals quite a lot about what Platt — who pastorsa megachurch in Birmingham, Alabama — wants to say: “Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.” His premise is that many of the principles of what we deem “the American dream” are in contradiction to living out Christian faith. While I am not sold on everything, he makes some very powerful points.

I am particularly convicted by the sixth chapter of Radical, entitled “How Much is Enough?” Dealing with American wealth versus a world that is mostly in poverty, Platt questions what he sees as a huge blind spot in American Christianity, saying:

“Today more than a billion people in the world live and die in desperate poverty. The attempt to survive on less than a dollar per day. Closs to two billion others live on less than two dollars per day. That’s nearly half the world struggling today to find food, water, and shelter with the same amount of money I spend on french fries for lunch.”

Let me say that this is not an issue that is a new struggle for me. I’ve often looked at the amazing amount of stuff  that my wife and I have managed to accumulate in 5 1/2 years of marriage, and simply wondered, “Why we need all this? Do we need all this?” Although we’ve made some half-hearted attempts recently to rid ourselves of some of our possessions, my own materialism nags at me, perhaps for the very reason that Platt questions whether the Church can rightly call itself God’s people.

“What scares me most, though, is that we can pretend that we are the people of God. We can comfortably turn a blind eye … and go on with our affluent model of Christianity and church. We can even be successful in our church culture for doing so. It will actually be a sign of success and growth when we spend millions on ourselves. “Look how big that church is becoming,” they’ll say. “Did you see all the stuff they have?”

John Wesley had strong words on stewardship and the use of money, and Platt actually quotes one of my favorite stories about Wesley.

[Wesley] had just finished buying some pictures for his room when one of the chambermaids came to his door. It was a Winter day and he noticed that she had only a thin linen gown to wear for possession against the cold. He reached into his pocket to give her some money for a coat, and found he had little left. It struck him that the Lord was not pleased with how he spent his money. He asked himself: “Will They Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful steward?’ Thou has adorned they walls with the money that might have screened this poor creature from the cold! O justice! O mercy! Are not these pictures the blood of this poor maid?”

I have to confess that I can’t say that the Lord is pleased with how I’m spending my money. I will be seeking to be a better steward, and seeking ways that I might have less and give more. I will be examining what I have in light of the needs of others.

Has God spoken to you regarding possessions and money?