For good reason, Christian people love the word gospel. Tragically, however, multitudes of Christians fail to grasp what the gospel fully is. In fact, I'm convinced there's just as much confusion inside the church as there is outside it regarding the gospel's true meaning--sometimes even in churches where the gospel is regularly preached and taught. To get a better grip on the gospel, maybe what we need most is to be startled...surprised...even shocked by it.
The full title of this one is Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. I thought this title would be similar to Jesus + Nothing = Everything which I read and reviewed last fall. (I still feel I didn't do a proper job of reviewing it.) And, in a way, I suppose it was to a certain degree. Both books being about grace: how God saves those who don't deserve to be saved. But Surprised by Grace is an in-depth study of the book of Jonah. It goes through all four chapters of this minor prophet. He discusses the text in a practical, meaningful, oh-so-relevant way. Not that he makes it all about you. It's easy to find yourself in the book of Jonah. Because we all like Jonah have a tendency to run away from God, to be stubborn and resistant, to talk back to God, to dismiss His way as being inferior to our own way. Jonah was good at throwing fits or temper tantrums. He liked to stomp his feet and yell no, no, no.
Anyway, Tchividjian's argument is that by studying the book of Jonah we learn a lot about God, a lot about ourselves, and a lot about grace and mercy.
I loved this one. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it as much as Jesus + Nothing = Everything. But I definitely LOVED it.
A friend once told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means we can't really move forward unless we learn more thoroughly the gospel's content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel, which is the good news that even though we're more defective and lost than we ever imagined, we can be more accepted and loved than we ever dared hope, because Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again for sinners just like you and me. God intends this reality to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It should define the way we think, feel, and live. (16)
We learn about the danger we experience when we run from God's will, the deliverance we experience when we submit to God's will, the deliverance others experience when we fulfill God's will, and the depression we experience when we question God's will. (25)
In all of human history, there has been only One who concluded--at every point, and in every way--that God's way is always best and God's call is always right. Because of him, every human problem will someday come to an end. (34)
The supreme example of this massive mercy is Jesus. The incarnation of Christ tells us most emphatically how God spares nothing in going after those who run away. God's becoming man is anything but a quiet and subtle response from God to our running from him. It's a huge and loud statement. It shouts to us that God confronts human flight in the most outspoken, powerful way. (52)
When we understand that our significance and identity are in Christ, we don't have to win--we're free to lose. The gospel frees us from the pressure to generate our own significance and meaning. In Christ, our identity and significance are secure, which frees us up to give everything we have, because in Christ we have everything we need. (104)
Christians need the gospel because our hearts are always prone to wander; we're always tempted to run from God. It takes the power of the gospel to direct us back to our first love. (155)
If you're a Christian, you're forever, unchangeably accepted by God, the only one who matters. When we grasp this, we realize that all those other things where we've searched for acceptance ultimately don't matter. (158)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible