I had about 16 hours on the drive down and about 13 hours on the drive up. (Don’t ask about the missing hours). I read a commentary on Nehemiah by James Montgomery Boice, it was great and I picked up some very helpful things for my next preaching series. The other was Lord Save us from Your Followers, by Dan Merchant. It is a book that discusses how the way Christians are perceived by non-Christians is generally negative and he theorizes why that is. The writing style is fun natured and is a fun read.
A few months ago I read Love Jesus, Hate Church by Steve McCranie. The difference between the two books is like night and day. McCranie’s book is chapter after chapter of how the church is crummy and has hurt him. It’s like reading a morgue file (the church is dead, it’s decayed, horrible, etc…) Merchant’s book seeks to focus on non-believers and their perception — but far more importantly, how to change that perception. He gives at least three very powerful (and funny) examples of how to approach people and enter into a dialog. He focuses on the question “Why is the Gospel of love dividing America?” I won’t tell you what these clever ploys are — but I would suggest you get the book.
Apparently there is a movie, I plan to pick it up.
The only constructive criticism that I would offer is that Merchant throughout the book refers to all people as God’s children. Merchant reports “Denise was so moving and such a clear expression of love for another of God’s children that it was undeniable.” (p. 202)Denise was ministering to a homeless person by washing his feet. Perhaps he was a Christian but the interviewed seemed to lean the otherway.
“. . .14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba,[h] Father.” 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirsâ€”heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.“
The children of God are those who have been adopted by the heavenly Father because of their relationship with Christ through their faith in Him. Merchant seems to have confused “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27) with “Children of God” who are those who have put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. This is a minor point in looking at the overall concept of the book, but if you read the book I just wanted to make this point.