Friday, February 26, 2010

30 By 30–Reading the favourite books of my friends

I'm working my way through my 30 by 30 list. One item was to read the favourite book of each of my closest friends. I started with my husband who chose "The Barbarian Way" by Erwin Raphael McManus.

I'm generally a fiction reader so this non-fiction book was a little out of my realm, which is exactly the point of this exercise.

The Barbarian Way is about becoming an un-tame Christian, one who takes risks and is willing to go outside the traditional religious boundaries.

Overall, I think the idea is a good one. Jesus wasn't exactly a traditional guy and he broke many of the religious "rules" of that time. I do think it's important for us not to be afraid to do something different if it's what God is calling us to do.

What I liked:

  • McManus went deeper into a part of the story of John the Baptist than I have ever heard and it really made an impact on me. When John was in prison, Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you if you do not turn away from me because of this." I always assumed that meant that John was to have faith no matter what. But Erwin explains that what he was really say was "I'm not coming for you John, I hope you can still trust me that I know what I'm doing." That's heavy. He basically told John that he would never see the outside world again, but that was the plan for his life. And John did trust him because that was how he lived life. When God tells me that he isn't going to take me away from a tough situation, will I trust him still? I want to be that person.
  • The book also talks about how God puts dreams inside of us, but so many people don't follow those dreams out of fear or because they seem too far fetched. If God has put a dream in me, I don't want to be someone who is afraid to follow His plan.
  • Another verse, which I've read before, but didn't really pay attention to was when Jesus spoke to Peter and said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" In other words, God has different plans for all of us and if His plan for my friend is to make them wealthy and for me to be poor, I have to let that be God's prerogative.
  • "Jesus death wasn't to free us from dying, but the fear of dying." That's a really good line and one I know I don't consider enough since I'm rarely in a life-or-death predicament.
  • McManus said: "There are no obligations fueling the actions of His people." I think that's great. We shouldn't be doing things for God people we should but because we want to. I know sometimes, I find myself praying because I feel like I'm supposed to, not because I'm trying to strengthen my relationship with God and that's definitely not where I want to be.
  • Finally, I enjoyed Erwin's object lesson about rhinos. First, I had no idea a group of rhinos was called a crash, so I learned something new there. But his point was that rhinos can only see 30ft. ahead of them, but it doesn't stop them from running as fast as they can. So we, as Christians, aren't to be afraid of what's ahead of us, at 31ft. even if we can't see. We should run full speed ahead into what God has called us to.

What I didn't like:

  • I really didn't like the way McManus put down modern Christianity and the church. I'm not so naive as to think any church is perfect or that any Christians have it all figured out, but the book made it sound like we've all got it completely wrong. I just don't agree. I think we've all got a long way to go and I think that includes the author, his church, everyone. For example, one line read, "To keep people in line, Christianity demands everyone become a good citizen." I have several thoughts on this. One, what is so wrong about being a good citizen? Two, didn't Jesus call us to live good lives? I know that what he is trying to say is that there are often too many rules that don't bring us any closer to God, but it came out like nothing Christians are currently doing is right if they follow any rules.
  • Another thing that really bothered me was the book's description of how churches portray Christianity: "Jesus died and rose so you can live a life of endless comfort, security and indulgence" or "confess and believe and you'll go to heaven." Yes, there are some people who spread the prosperity gospel, but I think that's the outspoken few. You don't have to read far into the Bible to see God-fearing people suffer. I think that's an unfair generalization. The second statement I think is more accurate, but it's simplifying an entire faith into 8 words.
  • The book's suggestions on "becoming a barbarian" are very vague, to the point that I really didn't know what he was suggesting I do. He used words like crazy faith, adventure and fully alive. I wished there had been something a bit more practical.

So, overall, it was a worthwhile read for several important points I was able to take out of it. I wouldn't add it to my favourites list, but it had some good points and it gave AJ and I some good things to talk about.


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