The Cure What if God isn't who you think He is and neither are you
by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thrall
On the cover of this book is a snake. He creeps between the R and the E in the title, and you might think it says CURSE if you glance.
I don't remember how I stumbled across this title, but I do know that when it comes to books, a good stumble can lead to an amazing fall.
When a non-fiction starts with an engaging parable, I'm almost always sucked in. The first few pages of The Cure are reminiscent of The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, following one journeyman along the path of life, pursuing the call of his heart. What I really love about this character is --- he is really me. And probably you too. He's on the road when he finds a fork. Trusting God lies on one side of the sign, and on the other reads Pleasing God. Which will he choose? Which would you?
The parable woven throughout follows him to the Room of Good Intentions, retracing his steps, and eventually to the Room of Grace, though he doesn't stay there either. Breaking into the parable (in italics) with prose, the authors open our theology and traditions to explore just what the subtitle asks, following through exquisitely with the intrigue promised on the cover (which is more than I can say of other book stumbles I've taken).
We discover through both the parable and the narration that our understanding of God's identity and character may not be true-to-form. "There are two gods: the one we see through our shame, and the One who actually is." The other predominant theme throughout is that of our identity - the identity of the Christ-follower. Who we are, as HE defines us, will revolutionize our lives when we receive the grace of this truth, and the truth of this grace. It reminded me of another life-changing book I read just last year: Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson. God's Grace defines me.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book: (and really, I had a hard time narrowing this down. I think I practically wore out the underline key on my kindle while reading this book!)
"I will—each of us will—be tempted to return to my mask each time I lose the confidence of my new identity."
"Only now, because it was about God, the stakes were higher. I represented something other than just me, and the pressure was greater. Much greater. Soon, I was back to trying to impress a God I imagined was growing more and more impatient with me. I learned to bluff, manipulating and managing my persona to appear better than who I feared I was. No one told me this two-faced life would severely stunt my growth."
“The goal is not to change me. I’m already changed. The goal is to mature. When I depend on the new creature I’ve been made into through the work of Jesus at the cross, I begin to live healthier, more free of sin, more free to love. I learn to believe all His power, love, truth, and goodness already exists in me, right now. Even on my worst day.”
"This life in Christ is not about what I can do to make myself worthy of His acceptance, but about daily trusting what He has done to make me worthy of His acceptance."
"We call it [the Control Cycle] because it is what happens when we believe we can control our lives. And control our sin."
This is what I was referring to when I wrote my response on Friday. Really, I do nothing to earn acceptance or perform as a Christian. It is all cooperation with God in and through me, because He is the Savior and I am His beloved rescued one. I can't muster this. I can't control it. He is both the Author and the Finisher of my faith.
Also, a family member said he enjoyed The Cure a lot, and thought it was quite a bit to think about. Though he was slightly more critical of the writing style and thought some of it was difficult to follow, we had a great conversation about it, and he might even read it again. A friend who claims not to be "a reader" took my recommendation, likes it so far, and says this is one she wants to finish. See what others are saying too.
My favorite chapter in the book was probably Two Healings (5), in which the authors illuminated THE MOST thorough, well-defined, and theologically sound explanation of healing-forgiveness I've read. I'm not exaggerating when I say the globe would be different if humanity (or at least the Church) would love God and one another and ourselves this way.
"At the core, we’re just learning to trust and depend on our new identity. We’re learning to live out of who God says we are on our worst day. So a statement like ‘It’s less important that anything gets fixed, but that nothing is hidden’ is an example of living out of our new identity. It’s a realization that sin finds its power when I hide. That nobody gets ‘fixed.’ That we’ve already been changed and now get to mature into who we already are. We’re starting to discover that this new power is released when we trust it—when I’m safe enough to tell the worst about myself to someone else. See, that's what we're learning to do here. We want to get close enough, be safe and trusted enough, that when that moment comes where God reveals something hard to face, we won't have to run and hide."
Happy reading, Friends. I hope to have another good one for you next week! What have you been reading lately?