Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: A Loving Life

A Loving Life. Paul E. Miller. 2014. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

For anyone who loves the book of Ruth Paul Miller's A Loving Life is a true must read. Then again, I think it might prove to be a must read for anyone who loves the gospel. What Paul Miller does in A Loving Life is carefully examine the book of Ruth verse by verse and chapter by chapter. The whole book is discussed, and quite a few things are discussed or highlighted. But the main theme of his book, as you might have guessed, is love: hesed love. What does christian love look like? What does it look like lived out? Miller uses the book of Ruth and countless personal stories from his own life and from his ministry to illustrate what christian love looks like in the real world.

What is hesed love? "Hesed is one-way love. Love without an exit strategy. When you love with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is... Hesed is a stubborn love" (24)

How do you love like that? "You endure the weight of love by being rooted in God. Your life energy needs to come from God, not the person you're loving. The more difficult the situation, the more you are forced into utter dependence on God. That is the crucible of love, where self-confidence and pride are stripped away, because you simply do not have the power or wisdom or ability in yourself to love. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you can't love. That is the beginning of faith--knowing you can't love. Faith is the power for love...Faith energizes love. Our inability to sustain love drives us into dependence on God. Then faith becomes a continuous cry. (43)

Miller argues that Ruth loves Naomi with hesed love. He also argues that Christ loves the church with hesed love. He thus goes on to say that while many have tried to make Boaz the Christ figure, the way he sees it, Ruth is the real Christ figure in the book. Whether you agree with him in his interpretation or not, it's so new a concept to me I'm not sure what to think, this is just one of many insights shared in A Loving Life. For example, he also discusses grief and loss and the lost art of lamenting. Also repentance, grace, and humility.

I definitely enjoyed reading this one. I thought it did a great job examining the book of Ruth. I liked that Miller took the time to point out original Hebrew words and how they've been translated. His approach is very casual at times, which I think is quite nice. He examines a very familiar story; it's a thought-provoking book.

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