Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Yesterday I finished a book (except for the endnotes), The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall. I’m not sure how Bible scholars would view the book, and it actually is not a scholarly book. But that doesn’t at all mean that it wasn’t written from sound scholarship. While it might present an important aspect of something within what ends up being more complex, I think it’s worth one’s while to read it, and consider its thesis. I for one, am favorably disposed. I received my copy from our church’s small group leader, and we are set to go through an interactive study of it. The group leader says it changed his life. I tend to be skeptical of any such claim, remembering how books used to impact me in earlier years, but how such effects would wear off usually sooner than later. What seems to me to be in this book’s favor is that our group leader himself is an older, mature Christian, and that the lead author of the book, John Lyynch, does not seem to me to be a fly-by-nighter, an older man himself with decades of pastoral experience.
One of the leading theses of the book (and believe me, don’t think the book is either simplistic, or reductionistic as in thinking there’s an easy answer and fix) is that we’re not to be about pleasing God, but instead, trusting him. And then the pleasing part will come out of that trust. I would like to call it a radical trust in keeping with the message of scripture, and the gospel, and quite evident in the passage quoted above (click the reference above to get some other interesting translations of Proverbs 3:5-6). The book is wise and avoids at least one pitfall I can think of: an individualistic approach, which misses the central place of community in the spiritual life, and I can think of another I won’t add here. And I’m confident there are more.
This book is very much in keeping with what has come to my attention as of late, a needed emphasis that in some way may be lacking in my life: grace, and in particular, God’s grace. It is a grace which not only forgives, but puts us into the place not of law and duty, but of love and its compelling dynamic. I can see where the book could well be misunderstood by reviewers and readers, although I think in such cases, it would be a misreading of the book to come to such conclusions. When there is an emphasis on grace, it is easy to think that there’s a skirting of law, but I think the book captures well something of what Paul was getting at in his writings, how the law itself does not help us to keep it, hampered by our sinful flesh, and the reality that we were never meant to live as self-sufficient creatures to begin with. But that we’re dependent on God’s grace in and through Jesus, and Jesus’s death and resurrection, as well as on the gift of the Holy Spirit, to begin to mature in this new life. Another key thesis of this book is that we’re to live our of what we already are through our identity in Christ.
I think the book provides a good mix of solid biblical, theological truth, with wise pastoral understanding. We work through such truth in the gospel with fits and starts, steps backward after making progress, etc.
So I’m looking forward in the context of our small group, in seeking to better understand and apply the truth of the gospel from this book into my own life. And sharing facets of that truth with others, including any readers of this blog.
But for now, I’ll end this post with the thought, God in Jesus through the gospel is completely committed to us in an unwavering love which doesn’t love us either more, or less, because of anything we either do, or fail to do. We need to let the truth sink in of the radical nature of the gospel, before we can apply it radically to our own lives, as followers of the one who not only loved us, but loves us. And longs to be in close fellowship with us. And is united to us: we in him, and he in us, to the very end.