Friday, October 17, 2014
The bottom-line point of this book is that God's mercy comes to meet you in your situation, whatever it may be; and everyone needs mercy. The book's message starts with getting real with yourself, God and others--telling the truth about who you are and where you are. So far, so good. The author then veers off into the topic of how we are to take God's mercy to others, as we are said to see others in one of two groups: Us and Them. We are encouraged to evaluate how we are part of the divide and how we can be part of the bridge. Vicki Courtney comes back to the topic of receiving God's mercy by understanding deeply that Christ paid for ALL of our sins and addresses allowing mercy to reach our unresolved shame, encouraging us to share our burdens with a few trusted others in order to shed light on our darkness. The author then veers off again into the topic of legalism and how we shouldn't impose our standards on others, an intense chapter that parallels the one on Us and Them. The book talks about the need for approval with a giant acknowledgement of how many females have come to use social media to measure their worth. One chapter is about, in a word, idolatry. This is an exceptional chapter, written very thoughtfully. The last couple of chapters end with owning up to the fact that we sin and encourages us to fall forward, not down. The author makes the excellent point that if Christians identify themselves as sinners saved by grace, the emphasis is on sin. If Christians see that the Bible says they are saints who sin, the focus will be on pursuing holiness. For the most part, I found this book challenging and thought provoking. It used the Bible, sometimes more effectively than others. The chapters on Us and Them and on legalism were, however, jarring. They both addressed how we can bring mercy to others and so did not fit with the flow of the book. I also found some of the author's illustrations too specific. For example, she used a conversation with a former houseguest as an illustration of legalism, and a friend's daughter's suitemate as an illustration of shame. It seems to me it would be easy for certain people in the author's circle to pinpoint themselves or others in these illustrations. I don't know that I would recommend this book to others. At this point, the things that stood out to me were not the positive aspects of the book; perhaps if the things that were jarring about the book fade, that will change. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.