Having just finished this read, I thought I’d do a brief book review for now. I’ll discuss with more details my take-aways sometime soon, and I’m sure I’ll mention this book’s impact on my life in the months to come. Philip Yancey does a remarkable job assessing some concerns particularly in the Christian culture in the United States at present.
In a word, I’d sumarize his concerns as follows: Christians in the United States have become more frequently associated with narrow-minded pride in the last decade than in years past, specifically here in the United States. One of the primary causes of this is our pride in politics. We quickly and often get associated with terms like “right-wing” or “legalism” or even hatred for minorities. These are very broad stroke generalizations, but it is interesting how our involvement in politics is often known more for our pride than our compassion. Part of this can be attributed to the negativity of modern day news broadcasting, but part of it, as Yancey points out, is that Christians aren’t necessarilly the “moral majority” in any era of a culture’s history for the long-haul. We often end up getting prideful once we have a predominate role in a culture and eventually make some major mistakes, just like anyone else in society. As believers, we’re far more compelling in making disciples of Jesus Christ when we are doing the following:
1) Living as pilgrims in a foreign land – Heaven and Jesus as our home and ultimate relationship.
2) Living lives of active attention to those in weak and/or clowdy places in this life
3) Living lives of artistic creativity that gets the eye of the beholder and reminds us to wonder ultimately in the Creator Himself.
Yancey sums up these three behaviors for believers as: Pilgrim, Activist, and Artist. This book comes to you highly recommended. It has impacted my outlook on modern-day Christianity in the United States. Yancey has reminded me to slow my pace with my words and listen more often to all those I encounter, admiring God’s care for people more than my judgments of them based on my preferences. This book encounters believers and reminds us to take the time to think and pray and care for others’ real needs – activism was honored highest and most frequently by Yancey – more often than giving too much attention to our greedy wants.
Finally, Yancey’s own personal wrestle – I could identify with this more than anything else he wrote! As a journalist, he wrestles with the reality that he is more of an artist than an activist. Writing can be powerful, but all writers, even little-known ones like me, have to stand in deep appreciation for activists who are touching on real and known needs. The majority of us should attend to real and known needs of those we encounter day-in and day-out. I was humbled and reminded to not think too highly of myself as a less-known writer. It’s a joy to write this blog semi-frequently, yet I am compelled to get down out of the role of observer and jump into the world of participant more frequently.
Authors like Francis Chan come to mind as those who are seeking as best they can to keep up the communication while making clear steps to apply what they are communicating. In our small way, as a family, we are also seeking to apply these biblical ideals for the Christian life by moving back to Merced, CA. It’s hard and heavy in some ways, yet it’s exilerating in another sense. A friend of mine reminded me of the adventure of life, and that this move is an act of joyful obedience for us, running with long strides in the joy of the Lord’s direction. May God be honored as each of us bend and sway to the God of the Bible’s direction and careful use of our lives for His glory as long as we have life until we meet the LIFE HIMSELF, Jesus Christ!
In His friendship,