Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Being everPresent in our faith

What does it mean to live out the gospel?

For Jeremy Writebol, in his book, everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present, living out the Gospel is not about a new technique. Instead, he recommends letting our relationship with God seep into every place in our life.

Writebol explores God’s attribute of omnipresence, challenging believers to live in the same way – letting the gospel and our faith touch every place in our life: home, school, office, third places and the cities. Where we are should be affected by who we are.

I appreciate the rich descriptive details he uses to begin each chapter. He grounds us with who he is as a pastor and writer and husband. He lets us see his personal surroundings and then shows us how God’s Word transforms them. Writebol comments, “The place you are right now is God’s place. This ought to be a transforming perspective for us.”

He comments on the restlessness of our souls, arguing that this sense of spiritual dislocation is really our longing for God. “Our souls send us signals of pain, frustration, anxiety, fear, and trembling because they are trying to tell us that we are not in the right place. The diagnosis is that we have acute soul dislocation.”
Writebol suggests that this is a spiritual longing. Perhaps it is God drawing us to our true home.

Each chapter in the book begins with an atmospheric description of place:

“At this very moment, my home is a bakery as well as a recreational center and office. My wife is upstairs in the kitchen, baking hundreds of cupcakes for a school event tonight. The gingerbread and espresso scents move throughout the rooms of the house.”

It is in this realistic setting, that Writebol turns our eyes to God. This from his chapter on work: “Jesus didn’t take work away from us. He redeemed us from a life of finding our identity in work.”

The chapters conclude with questions for discussion. This would work well as a group study – a launching point for discussion. How does what we believe challenge the way we live? How does it change the way we are “everPresent” in every place?

We need to be Christians at home, and at work, but also in the “third places” – clubs, coffee houses, shops, gymns, places where people live and breathe and socialize. Rather than create a secondary “Christian” version of culture, Writebol challenges us, “The ever-present gospel in the third place means that Christians need to be in these places.”

Jeremy Writebol was a former student of mine at Moody Bible Institute - and I am honored to be able to review his work. His book is available on Amazon - or here: 
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