I am reading a book. Actually, I am reading three different–no, four different–books at one time. This particular one…well, I will reserve my comments until the end. I will give it the same respect and berth that I gave Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”* and offer my two pennies when I am finished.
This one causes me to bounce back and forth between tears, laughter, amens and huhs. Throw in a few feverish phrases of my own in the margins here and there of criticisms, a pinch or so of harumphs from time to time, and you get the idea. In all fairness, the author said in his prologue that I would take such a journey, to buckle up and see the ride through to the end.
So I am.
But one of the ah and amen moments (there have been more than a few) came when he said this about the Gospel:
We’re in serious trouble in the church. It isn’t because we are sinners or because we don’t know enough, pray enough, or read the Bible enough (amen). Our problem isn’t about being more faithful or not living a supernatural life of victory (of course, I hiccuped here). Our problem isn’t going to be fixed with more programs, better methods of evangelism and stewardship, or discipline (I’ll buy that). Our problem isn’t spiritual formation or that we aren’t missional (okayyyy…with a limp caution flag, only cuz I’m not inclined to wave it).
Our problem is that we have taken the best news ever given to the world (amen!), run it through a “religious” grid (preach it, brother!) and made something unpalatable out of it (C’MON PREACHER! SAY IT!). In short, we’ve taken the good news and made it bad news…” (GLORY! OH, AMEN! HELP HIM JESUS!)
–From a book I’m reading; parentheticals my own (obviously)
Yeah, I knew you’d like it.
Can he get an amen?
Of course, that’s only a couple paragraphs. It’s the other iffy ones (I didn’t say fifty…read it again!) that have me a tad tentative.
I said I’d reserve my comments about some of the causes and remedies** he is proposing until I am very sure of what this author is communicating (I’m only on page 89) so we both (you and I) are just going to have to wait and see.
However, to sate your appetite with another amengloryhallelujahpreachitbrother tidbit, I read this ending portion to a chapter and knew–absolutely KNEW!–I had to pin it up on my blog. It is delicious!
I have a friend who was a missionary in a very hard place. She had served there for a number of years, and I felt it was time for her to come home and rest. She had done her part. I asked her what she was going to do when she finished her sabbatical.
“I’m going back.”
“You don’t have to do that,” I told her. “Jesus is pleased with what you’ve done. Why do you feel you have to go back?”
“Because,” she said, “somebody has to plant flowers in hell.”
I am so grateful to the author–a man I have personally loved and deeply respected for many years, and will continue to on both fronts…irregardless…
…and to the hero who lives this story, and the many other heroes out there working the fields of the kingdom, planting seeds in fertile soil, reminding me and all of us of the bottom line. The base and sum of it all.
*I offer only these two characterizations to “Love Wins”: highly readable and grossly misleading
** So far, I am troubled by his seeming bent toward a costless expectation in our salvation. The author says “sorry is enough” and that gives me pause. There is a broad assumption in Christianity today (since the early 20th century propagation of “decisional regeneration”–make a decision for Christ by repeating a prayer instead of our becoming His disciples through the daily empowerment of His grace and daily abiding) of this type of “forgiveness” gospel that is only satisfied with sinners saying sorry, and that heaven is open to those who show up at the gates as “sorry sinners”. More on that later.