I recently finished the book Unleashed by Erwin Raphael McManus. In this book McManus is attempting to redefine the term "barbarian" and it's application to the Christian life. I love his parallels and the biblical references he uses to convince us of how "tame" and "civilized" we have become as Christians. I truly identify with being someone who likes living life on the safe side. I am terrified to step out and maybe (yikes) suffer a little for my faith. One of my favorite quotes from McManus is found on page 44, "Instead of finding confidence to live as we should regardless of our circumstances, we have used it as justification to choose the path of least resistance, least difficulty, least sacrifice. Instead of concluding it is best to be wherever God wants us to be, we have decided that wherever it is best for us to be is where God wants us." Definitely an ouch, since it is delivered right after an account from the life of Corrie ten Boom, whose faith and strength I greatly admire.
Christianity, in it's early days (think the twelve disciples and the first generation after Jesus' death and resurrection) looked very different from what it does today. Christians were beaten, imprisoned, and put to death (in really horrific ways) for their faith. They literally lost it all to follow Jesus. Nowadays, at least in America, we look more like the Pharisees and Sadducees, sitting pretty in large, beautiful churches. In our Sunday best, looking down our noses at those we perceive to be "unworthy" and "sinners". Oh what Jesus would do if He walked into our sanctuaries...
Are we truly living out our faith, our Christianity, in a way that Jesus would be proud of? Are we following His true calling? This is McManus' urging, to put aside the pretenses of religion and follow the God who saved us with our all, no holding back, no attempts at assimilation with the world.
The only reason I gave this book three stars instead of four or five is because of the difficulty I had in following with the term "barbarian". I have so often associated the word with a wild, animal-like human, some one who is cruel and inhumane. Like a savage or a cannibal. I had to consciously remind myself throughout the book that McManus was using a different definition of the word.
Otherwise, I loved it. It was definitely a book that caused me to do some soul-searching and praying. I'll end on another quote from pages 115-116, " Ironically, Jesus was crucified not in spite of His love, but because of it. Somehow love incites both love and hate with equal force. The mission of Christ would be so easy to embrace and carry out if love always resulted in love, but it does not. ...Love always moves to sacrifice which is exactly where He calls us to go. We shouldn't be surprised, then, that to follow Christ is to abandon the luxury of safety and security. If we are to be like Him, we must always risk for love." Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.