In this recent book by Max Lucado he confronts head on the heresy of today’s average Christian that they are in fact so special that God exists for them and their happiness. Listen to the prayers of most Christians or read through the prayer requests at most churches. What do you find? Prayers for comfort, protection, and the overall absence of difficulties. It starts with grade schoolers praying for their cousin’s neighbor’s cat and spills over to adults praying that their friends will have a relaxing vacation? Really? Are these the prayers that we bring to the throne room of God? Lucado writes, “Our comfort is not God’s priority.” (p. 18) and asks, “If God exists to please us, then shouldn’t we always be pleased?” (p. 19) Statements like these stand in stark contrast to the how-to messages being preached in too many churches today – that if we follow Jesus all of our troubles will disappear in just 3 easy steps. How did we get here? How did we move so far away from a biblical Gospel that showcases Jesus’ suffering and is filled with warnings of the troubles and trials that we will face because we believe? How could we possibly think that God exists for us and our comfort?
Instead, Lucado asserts, we exist to reflect and proclaim God’s glory – “your message, your salvation, your body, your struggles, your successes – all proclaim God’s glory.” (p. 103)
I don’t want to seem over simplistic here but I believe that this is the answer to many of our most perplexing questions. Why did she have to die? Why did I lose my job? Why did our home’s value drop by 30%? To proclaim God’s glory, that’s why! Just exactly how? I don’t know those details. They are different in each case but I am certain that these things and more happen to proclaim God’s glory. It’s the only reason that makes sense.
On page 147 Lucado reflects on the kidnapping of missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham.
“During their captivity, they not only spoke of Jesus, they lived Jesus. Didn’t complain. Did their work and volunteered for more. Chained every night to a guard, Martin always wihsed his captors a good night and told them about Jesus. The Burnhams allowed God to use their suffering for his glory.”
“Because of Martin’s death, nations around the world heard the name of Christ.
Through the Burnham’s struggle, God was seen
Through Martin’s death, God was seen.
Through your problems and mine, may he be seen as well.”
Lucado closes his book with this prayer:
“May God rescue us from self-centered thinking. May we have no higher goal that to see someone think more highly of our Father, our King., After all, it’s not about…well, you can finish the sentence.” (p 166)
If you are a second chair leader I would suggest that you could use this book in a number of ways. First, read it. There is likely a strong message for all of us second chair leaders as we serve in support roles to our first chair leaders. Who among us has not felt overlooked, under appreciated, or even disposable? Lucado reminds us that it’s not all about us. Second, this book could be a good group study for a staff, class, or small group. There is a simple study guide included in the book that you might want to use in 6-7 sessions rather than in the 13 one-chapter-a-week format in which the study guide was written. Finally, this would be a good book to have on your shelf for those unexpected counseling or mentoring opportunities to help someone gain a healthier – more biblical – view of their life and circumstances.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”