“The message of Christian orthodoxy isn’t that I am right and someone else is wrong. It’s that I am wrong and God is filled with grace…How can we be arrogant about a truth that is completely outside of anything we’ve done? If we had earned the gospel, we could be arrogant about it. If we had somehow created the truth, then we could copyright it and control other people’s access to it. But the truth is a gift from God to us. It has changed us only because he extended his mercy to us.” In this short book, Joshua Harris attempts to balance the difficulty task of orthodoxy – or believing in ultimate truth – with humility – or lack of arrogance (about said truth). The book is an easy read – only four chapters totaling 61 pages, but it is a worthwhile read.
Harris does a great job of calling all to task – from those who would bend the truth the fit a modern age or “reach the lost” to those who hold so fast to truth that they seem to forget part of that truth is to “love your neighbor” (Mark 12:31); my guess is regardless of your theological position, denominational affiliation, or political persuasion there is something in this book that will cause you to shout “Amen!” and something in this book that will offend and (hopefully) convict you.
One quote that brought me to my knees in worship was, “When we know the truth about God – his love, his power, his greatness, his holiness, his mercy – it doesn’t leave us boasting. It leaves us amazed. It leaves us in awe of truth. It leaves us humbled in the presence of grace.” I find myself even now reflecting on the awesomeness of God! This past week in Bible study I was having a conversation with someone that eventually led to discussions of the role of The Law and the nature of grace and salvation; at one point in the conversation I looked at this person and said, “This is so exciting! Why is it that when we come to church on Sundays we don’t get excited about this?” I found this week more times than I can count instances where I was reminded of the truth about God and his ways and I was awed and humbled as I sat in the presence of His grace.
One final quote that also has had me thinking is the following:
“Some Christians, driven by a desire to reach lost people, cross the line from trying to reach our culture and start trying to impress our culture. And when a person is motivated by a desire to impress this fallen culture, very quickly all that God has to say becomes, instead of a precious truth, a hindrance. The Christians who go this way become slaves to the trends, to the values, to the ideals of a spiritually lost culture.”
Without getting on a soapbox and preaching a sermon here, I have to say one of ways I see this statement living out is in how many churches choose to “do church”, in particular the constant battle over music in church. Many would be wise to reflect on the words Harris writes here and answer the question, “Do I seek to reach or do I seek to impress?” The answer may surprise us.
Overall, I give this book 4/5 stars and recommend it to anyone and everyone – particularly because it is so short (though that doesn’t mean it’s not deep). For the record, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.