Complexity and difficulties are very challenging for some people to appreciate. Take the person who studies mechanical engineering in college, lands a great job, works at it for forty years, and then retires with a nice nest egg.
Now take the person who studies art history in college. Museum jobs are few and far between. Teaching jobs even less so. She makes ends meet by working in a restaurant and being a security guard at night. Our art historian can understand how some people are able to rather easily find employment, but our engineer has a tougher time understanding why the art historian can’t find gainful employment. All this leads to an interesting dynamic at play.
If your life has been a pretty simple A leads to B kind of existence, it is easy to assume that this is how life is suppose to work. When it does not happen for certain people like the art historian, we like our engineer friend may be tempted to conclude that some mistakes were made along the way. We might speculate that our art historian was not a good student or perhaps is not very good with people. It baffles those of us who have this A leads to B notion to find out our art historian made stellar grades, won various academic honors, and has many friends.
How do we process all that? How we do will tell us much about ourselves, but probably more about God.
- Does the book convey (explicitly or implicitly) that it is the “key” to living the victorious Christian life?
- Does the author present more of a formulaic approach to the Christian life rather than the need to grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (II Peter 3:18)
- Does the book present a simplistic approach (read “cookie cutter”) to the Christian growth or does it value the wide variety of ways that God sanctifies His people?
- Does the author tend to universalize or make normative his own experiences?
- Does the author ask the reader to trust his interpretation of his experiences rather than backing those up with the word of God?
- Most importantly, does the book focus on the person and work of Christ? In other words, is it a Christ-centered approach to the Christian life or is it a mechanical, moralistic, and behavioral approach?
”There is a huge difference between what people actually know and how much they think they know.” – Nassim Taleb
“Madeleine L’Engle keenly observes in her book, A Stone for a Pillow, that our English word ‘disaster’ comes from the roots dis- (meaning ‘separation’) and -aster (meaning ‘star’). Disaster is thus a separation from the stars, a fragmenting of creation, the shattering of what God formed as an interconnected whole.”
(As quoted in Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, p. 100)
By the way, Slow Church may be the best book I’ve ever read on the nature of the church.