Publisher – FaithWords: New York, New York, 2014
Author – Jonathan Merritt
The author is a southern Baptist. He weaves his life story on paper in a way where many others can perhaps identify or connect. He grew up as a preacher’s kid. He decided to be a preacher and received a Master of Divinity. But he slowly morphed from a position in the pulpit to a writer behind a home keyboard. And in 2009, when he wrote an article for USA Today titled “An Evangelical’s Plea: ‘Love the Sinner,’ ” the resulting aftermath put him on a quest of hunger and to experience God in ways that he had not known before. As an evangelical, Merritt delves into some of the serious issues of today: legalism, abuse, sexuality, and international conflict. He explores raw life and deep suffering. Some of his friends have abandoned Christ’s church. But for this author, in his search for God in meaningful spiritual experiences, he lets you know where his journey has come together in the end. The book might resonate with millennials as Jonathan communicates in a kind of Tullian Tchividjian word-speak,
“Jesus is better than I imagined because He shatters my strivings for sterility with a radical invitation to life free. Free from sinful patterns, but also free from moralism, free from legalism, and free from condemnation. Free to love the unlovable, to use your gifts to serve those in need, to share the great story of redemption through Christ with others. Jesus liberates me from the ball and chain of religion and releases me from cold life of moralistic perfectionism. This kind of God is almost too incredible to accept, and yet there He stands nonetheless.”
Such words bring to my mind the recent debate among preachers and bloggers over what is involved in the critical process of Christian sanctification.
But what really stands out to me in reading this book is how the author presses home the fact of how God is often beyond our explanation. Especially in suffering.
I leave with you one of Jonathan’s prayers:
“God, I realize that life is not always as it seems, I said it my heart. I don’t understand why life shakes out the way it does. I can’t wrap my mind around it all. But I trust You’re still there and still sovereign. And even if the stars fall like pearls from a broken necklace, even in You never speak another word, I’ll keep trusting and following You.”