I was immediately drawn to this John Pavlovitz book by its title – If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk. For much of the last several years, I’ve faced the reality that so many of my fellow brothers and sisters in faith – and certainly me at times – have given Christianity a bad name.
When I mention that I’m a member of a church or a Christian, I receive looks of disgust, disdain, or disappointment. Why? Because the word “evangelical” has become synonymous with “jerk” at best and “monster” at worst in this country and many others around the world.
Even before I got through the introduction of If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk, I knew I’d love it – and knew it would be a productive read for myself and others like me who want to demonstrate our faith in a loving, compassionate way – but also for those who’re less prone to reading this book. (The humor of the opening illustration didn’t hurt for drawing in this rock ‘n roll gal’s heart, either.)
I’ll be honest – I’m still reading the book. I’m taking my time, going page by page in the midst of my new seminary classes as I read theology and doctrine, Church history, and more. Intermingling the reading of this book with my reading for seminary has been a boon to the integration of old and new thoughts from my formerly more legalistic and Calvinistic days.
The book is not a theology book in the traditional sense. It isn’t founded on the fathers of the ages. It isn’t written to be used in classroom settings. Instead, it’s a practical read that has illustrations and poignant stories and moments that help the reader see even more of the value of, well, not being a jerk in the name of Jesus.
So, if you’re looking for a book that will challenge some of your thinking, ask you questions you didn’t realize you needed to ask yourself, or just need to commiserate with someone else who agrees that God is love and not an angry old white dude with a blazing staff of lightning ready to strike down your enemies for you, this book could well be what you’re looking for. It certainly was for me.
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