Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Report #1

This paper is on the first book I read for the year here at CDH. We have about 20-25 books to pick from and we have to read 10 of them and right reports on them. This is the first. Let me know what you think:

Diana Wolfe
Book: Simply Christian
By: N.T. Wright
September 1, 2009

Book Review Questions:
1. Please give a brief summary of the book and its central ideas or themes:
The major theme of this book was to find out who the “echo” of this world is, whose voice this echo was coming from and how to obtain justice, spirituality, human relationship, and beauty. This echo is supposed to help us in that process, but we must figure out who this echo/voice is. The voice is Jesus/God, creator of the universe, giver of all things, redeemer of all people who come to Him. Throughout the book Wright talks about who God really is, who His people are – not just Israel, but Jews and Gentiles, how His kingdom is at hand, the rescue and renewal of Christ, how to live by the Spirit, and then His word, prayer, worship, and belonging. Throughout his entire book, Wright keeps coming back to the echoes of Jesus/God – justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty. How we must become agents of God’s new world that He has called us to – “being workers for justice, explorers of spirituality, makers and menders of relationships, and creators of beauty” (p.189). Wright makes the point to show what interlocks heaven and earth in many chapters. In the Old Testament they had the temple, Ark of the Covenant, Mt. Zion, and prophets that gave them the ability to be in God’s presence, hear His voice, receive direction, and pray. With the New Testament, Jesus became what now interlocks heaven and earth, through His death and resurrection. Even now though, we – the church – are the “temple”, we have “died” and have been resurrected with Christ and have new life (p. 114-115). We don’t need to go anywhere or use anything to have our Father in Heaven hear us or accept our prayers. The Holy Spirit is a part of this interlocking of heaven and earth as well. The Spirit even intercedes for us to the Father as He walks with us daily (Romans 8:27). In the end, God is ultimately “the one who satisfies the passion for justice, the longing for spirituality, the hunger for relationship, and the yearning for beauty” (p.138). With this book, Wright gives not only the Christian simple steps to live out this new life with Christ, and what this new life entails, but also gives insight and background for non-believers to understand what and who Christ really is – creator of the universe, giver of all things, and redeemer of all people who come to Him.

2. What was the most meaningful idea or theme in the book to and why?
The most meaningful idea to me is how God is ultimately “the one who satisfies the passion for justice, the longing for spirituality, the hunger for relationship, and the yearning for beauty” (p. 138).
I believe I long for these things and have truly never been able to find them accept in Christ or through a Christ centered situation. I have it to be completely true through my own experiences.

3. Were there any parts of the book you disagreed with or had issues with? If so why?
In the middle of the book Wright talks about the church and its role in the new creation that Christ has for us. As he talked about the church it became more as a building/structure, rather than the person or the body together as a whole. Towards the end of the book though, he talks about the word and how people perceive it as literal and metaphorically, and how Paul metaphorically speaks of the church as an actual body, each person having a specific role and part to play. He just seemed to be trying to please both sides of the argument on whom or what the church is.
Something I actually disagreed with was when Wright talked about how the reading of scripture aloud together in a service is the primary/central act of worship (p.150-151). I believe reading the word is a part of worship, but it doesn’t stop there. Reading the word and applying it to life is an act of worship, but ultimately worship is how we live our life, whether for the Lord or not. Humbling yourself before the Lord and sacrificing everything and giving Him the glory through it all is the primary/central act of worship.

4. Describe some ways the ideas in this book could influence your life:
This book really challenged me to check myself in how I look at God and the new life He has placed inside of me, as well as where we will spend that new life together with Him. I still struggle with the idea of eternal life and allow satan to use that fear to discourage me in my faith. This book was able to remind me of what resurrection really means, the love that Christ had in coming to this earth to serve and not judge, and that God is the ultimate provider in justice, spirituality, relationships, and beauty. Another way it has influenced my life is how I don’t have to define myself in anything else but Him and the love He has freely given me. This book was definitely a challenge, but one that I am glad I went through.

Matthew 7:11

I have realized how much obedience is important in the Christian walk. Not just so we can be right with the Lord, but so that we can learn what God would really have us do and walk it out in everything we do. I had to completely trust that the Lord was going to provide the money needed for the next payment for CDH. It was a huge stretch for me to literally wait until the last minute to find out that the Lord had brought the money in and I was able to make the payment on time. As I was going through that week of waiting and trusting on the Lord I came across the passage in Matthew 7, where Jesus is talking about how if we ask we will receive, if we seek we will find, and if we knock the door will be open to us. Then in verse 11 it talks about how we, who are evil, know how to give good gifts, so think how great the gifts our Father in heaven can give. It absolutely blew my mind away. He is so faithful and knows when to give, when to let us wait, and when to not give at all. He knows that we could try on our own to find the money or whatever needed, but to trust and obey Him in letting Him do His work makes the outcome so much better! God you have taught me that through obedience comes blessing and wisdom, and through ignorance and disobedience comes absolutely nothing but loneliness.

Thank you for you continual encouragement through your word and through your people. May you bless who ever you had send money, I ask that you would let them know through you love how thankful I am! Blessed be your Name, my Rock and my Redeemer!

Matthew 7:9-11
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
9"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!