I am still reading this book, but I wanted to share some quotes from this book that have stuck with me. No commentary, because I think they speak for themselves.
“I don’t God wants our church life to be centered on buildings and services. Instead, God wants our churches – whatever specific forms our gatherings take – to be focused on active discipleship, mission, and the pursuit of unity.”
“Isaiah 55:8-9: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are yours ways my way, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your way and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ This means we think differently than God! He hasn’t asked us to figure out why He does the things He does. We can’t. We are not capable. Our thinking if inferior to His. Our God is not a person who is slightly more intelligent: His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. Knowing that the gap is so large, shouldn’t we put our energy toward submitting rather than overanalzying? It is natural – no, it is expected – that there will be times, many times, when you won’t figure Him out.”
“Throughout history and throughout Scripture, godly men and women have embraced the God of Job and Jeremiah. They hold onto a God they didn’t always understand: a God who is immeasurably good, even though circumstances in life seem to suggest otherwise. Years ago, I came across an article entitled “Two Minutes to Eternity” by Marshall Shelley, one of the editors of Christianity Today at the time. In the article, Marshall tells the story of the miraculous birth of his son. When the child was in the womb, Marshall and his wife, Susan, found that their child had an abnormal heart and would probably not survive the birth, if he even made it that far. And so the Shelleys wrestled with God. ‘This was a design flaw,’ Marshall write, ‘and the Designer was responsible.’ So they prayed. They prayed for a miracle, the prayed for survival, they prayed that the God of all compassion would give the child the breath of life. Then the day of birth came, and the child was still alive. The child had survived the pregnancy! God is so good! As the child was born, Marshall looked upon his beautiful son: “He was a healthy pink, and we saw his chest rise and fall. The break of life. Thank you God.” And then the child died. Two minutes later, their son turned from pink to blue, and he died. The miracle of life was followed by the mystery of death. And as far as the Shelleys were concerned, the Designer was responsible. When the nurse asked the Shelleys if they had a name for the child, Susan responded: “Toby. It’s short for a biblical name, Tobiah, which means ‘God is good.'” God is good? How could they say that? How could they believe such an unbelievable attribute of God, when everything in that moment seemed to be proving the opposite? Because the Shelleys believed that God is good not only when He makes sense to us, but even when He doesn’t. God is good, because God is God. Goodness is inherent in who He is. And the Shelleys believed this. “The name was what we believed, not what we felt,” Marshall writes. “It was what we wanted to feel again someday.” And so it is with many things about God that don’t seem to add up. And so it must be with hell. As I have said all along, I don’t feel like believing in hell. And yet I do.”