You know those adverts for dog food that show rich, meaty chunks, in bite-sized pieces, smothered in a delicious gravy? That’s what God*Stories, by Andrew Wilson, reminds me of.
There is real intellectual and theological depth in God*Stories, making it a meaty, satisfying read, yet the chapters are short enough to be devoured easily in a standard quiet-time. And the gravy? The gravy is the wonderfully warm, witty writing. There are plenty of anecdotes (how many countries did Andrew visit while writing the book?), and helpful illustrations making the God stories both flavoursome and memorable.
The whole thing is excellent, but the stand-out section for me was ‘Act Five: Restoration and Hope’. I’m far too critical to give praise readily, but the chapters entitled ‘The Fall of Babylon’ and ‘Our Citizenship is in Heaven’ are strong contenders for the best things I have ever read on any topic ever.
If you’ve ever wondered why you should bother going to church (or tried to explain to someone else why they should), read this extract from the latter chapter:
The church is an outpost of God’s empire: a community of people whose passport is stamped [or issued by] “heaven” but who continue to live in a foreign land – earth – with the aim of making that foreign land more like home. We take heaven seriously, and live with different aims and different values from the people around us. We also take our citizenship seriously, so instead of hiding under the bed and waiting for rescue (or the rapture?), we live in the world with the intention of changing it…
Living in a foreign country is exhausting, and sometimes discouraging, so God designed the local church: little outposts of heaven, scattered throughout the world, where people with the same passports can regroup, speak their home language, and encouraged and equip one another as missionaries to the world around them. Mission is hard, and these outposts are vital for the citizens of heaven. … For citizens of heaven, [local churches] are the most empowering and refreshing places on earth.
If you don’t find church ‘vital’, ’empowering’ and ‘refreshing’ – if it has never occurred to you that church is supposed to be those things – perhaps the problem is less with the way things are done in your church and more with the way you’re living in the world. A challenge to us all!
My rating: 5*/5!
Picture Credit: ‘medium rare dog food chunks’ by wundoroo (Creative Commons)
This article also appears on ThinkTheology today.