Been Readin'

Thursday, January 13, 2011
I hope you've all had a great start to 2011.

I spent much of the past few weeks reading. I read a book reminding readers that Jesus loves them, half a book on church history which I'll post a review of once finished, many reviews of guitar gear, some magazines, and a book on evangelism.

To be honest, much of what I've read has been long forgotten.

However, two things have stood out that are worth mentioning.

First, go read "And Now a Word From Our Sponsor" over at The Church of no People. Matt Appling writes an appeal for the Church to get back to creating great art. I especially love the line near the end: "What we're doing isn't cutting it... We need to spend some of that money that we spend on buildings and shows for ourselves, and hire real artist to help us communicate with people we don't know how to communicate with."

As you may know, or have guessed, I'm not an artist. I suck at art. No reasonable person would ask me to create beautiful artistic expressions of the gospel story. Yet, we live in a world that consumes visuals: a world where people speak through art. We need someone to communicate love, hope, grace, peace, and Jesus in a visually compelling way.

So let's get on that already.

Secondly, I finished up a book on evangelism by Matthew Paul Turner called "The Coffee House Gospel." I love Turner's writing. I read his blog often, and I have one other book of his on my shelf. I'm not a "crazy let's stalk him online and ready every word every written by him" kind of guy, but I enjoy his writing none the less.

If you read this book hoping to find a defense for your personal belief that a Grande a day will save your soul, you will be disappointed. If you read it hoping to become the world's most famous evangelist, you should know that this is not a how to book.

It's more of a, "Hey, did you know that when you talked to your neighbour about your mutual displeasure of waking up to a foot of snow needing to be shoveled off the driveway, you were creating future opportunities to share with them the hope you have of being saved from eternal damnation because you were building a relationship with them and are not hoping to one day say: 'Walking on snow is like walking on frozen water. Hey speaking of walking on water, my friend did that once. Maybe you've heard of him, his name is Jesus.'? " kind of book.

There are now many underlined sound bites in my copy of the book, and here's one I'd love to share with you:

"I've realized that sometimes I have found myself to be so cold towards non-Christians. Not that I'm mean to them, but I just simply don't feel the weight of the void in their lives." 

I think this really jumped out at me for the simple reason that I've been a Christian as long as I remember.  I remember being told as a kid that inside everyone's heart there is a God shaped hole. I don't have any idea what that means anymore. I mean, I know the concept, it's just not personal to me. I have no idea what it is like to feel a void that only Jesus can fill. I feel no void. And I don't know that I ever have.

Plus, given my incredibly lush Canadian lifestyle, I have no idea what it's like to have a void in my life, period. Like many people I avoid voids.* I struggle to relate to any concept of void. Yet, perhaps there are people who sense a void and just don't know how to put their finger on it. They can't name it and have to live in the discomfort that causes.

I'm speculating now.

I just don't know.

And that's why these words jumped out at me. Turner pointed out to me that perhaps I struggle to relate to my neighbours because they live with something I don't. He shares that he would pray for God to make him aware of what that feels like. I wonder if he still prays that way. I also wonder if I should be praying likewise. Perhaps it would be a greater motivator to reach across the fence.

This book was not only an encouragement to share my faith, but to also strike up conversations with strangers, because any conversation can become an opportunity to share the difference that Jesus makes in my life.

*And you read that right. I was not referencing this game or advertising campaign.