There is an American Christian story saying bigger, richer, more powerful is better. Nye wonders if the American church is gaining the world but losing its own soul. He wants us to return to a biblical vision of what it means to be a Christian. He writes about concepts like humility, generosity, obscurity, vulnerability, and more
He asks some penetrating questions of the American church. For example, what defines a truly healthy church? Is it one that is notably growing in numbers or one clearly evidencing the fruit of the Spirit?
He asks some penetrating questions of American Christians too. What does it truly mean to follow the ways of Jesus, for example. We might have lots of stuff but are we actually spiritually impoverished? “The path to a truly rich and abundant life,” he writes, “has nothing to do with how much money you have or how much you have achieved.” (154/2719)
I appreciate his penetrating insights into technology and the Internet, how it has fundamentally changed our interactions between one another and changed our concept of our soul's neediness. I liked his comments on wealth, wondering if it has made us better people or if we have lost basic elements of humanity. He suggests our wealth has come at a high cost to our souls and spirituality.
Nye is clear. Living the counter cultural narrative of the Bible is not easy in today's American society. Yet he asks Christians to be disruptive, “Because the biblical pattern of life is so different from the American pattern ...” (1698/2719) He asks Christians to faithfully live an example of that biblical counter narrative.
This request may not go over well with Christians living high on American success. “We cannot pursue the American Dream and God's Dream,” he writes. “The two kingdoms are in opposition to one another.” (1736/2719)
If you are ready to declare your allegiance to God's kingdom, this book is for you. You will be challenged and receive clarity. There were no discussion questions in the advanced copy I read. That's too bad as this would be a good book for use by a small group or church board.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Chris Nye is a pastor and writer living in California's Bay Area with his wife. His writing has appeared in a number of publications and he is most recently the author of Distant God: Why He Feels Far Away...and What We Can Do About It. He currently serves as pastor for leadership development and teaching at Awakening Church, a faith community reaching the Silicon Valley. He is a frequent speaker at churches, universities and retreats. You can find out more at www.chrisnye.co.
Baker Books, 192 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. I read an ARC and the quotes may appear differently in the published book.