by Scott Sutton
I have three books (aside from the Bible) that I recommend to all new Christians:
•“Eternity in Their Hearts” by Don Richardson
•“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis
•“How Christianity Changed the World” by Alvin J. Schmidt
•Honorable Mention: “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning; “The Pursuit of God” by A.W. Tozer
There are so many other great reads. I hate to even come up with a list like this because lists, by definition, are exclusive and I know I am excluding some true classics with mine. Forgive me if I’ve omitted any of your favorites, and then go get your own blog :-)
I come up with this list because it gives a well-rounded picture of the Christian life. “Eternity in Their Hearts” is a stunning picture of the specific ways in which God’s fingerprints can be seen in cultures around the world so that the hearts of all people are prepared to know him. “Mere Christianity” introduces basic doctrines and beliefs in very approachable ways. “The Ragamuffin Gospel” reminds us what grace and love to ourselves and to those around us truly look like. “The Pursuit of God” paints a picture of surrender to God.
Then there is this somewhat obscure book that many people haven’t heard of: “How Christianity Changed the World”. It is a little bit heady. It reads more like a textbook than a story. But it is also profoundly inspiring about what it looks like when Christians accept that God’s Kingdom isn’t relegated to the afterlife; it begins NOW.
The work of God’s kingdom is work that also matters in the broken world that we inhabit on this side of eternity. If we believe that the sick will be healed in the afterlife, we work to heal the sick in this life. If we believe that there will be no poverty or disadvantage in the afterlife, we work to alleviate poverty and disadvantage in this life. If we believe that there will be no hatred or other forms of division in the afterlife, then we work to tear down these walls in this life.
That is the premise of “How Christianity Changed The World” and it walks through the myriad of ways in which the church has pursued these things throughout the past two millennia, and how the church’s pursuit of art, education, equality, science, and so many other disciplines has had a “halo effect” on the rest of the world, too.
But this is a blog, not a book report, so let me bring it back into focus.
I recommend this book because it imparts a sense of urgency and responsibility to the Christian reader. If it mattered during Jesus’ life, if it will matter in eternity to come, then it matters right now. Here. In your city. In this moment. Where does the world around you look different than heaven? That is a place where you and the church have an opportunity to prayerfully and lovingly redeem and restore.
We’ve titled this current sermon series “We Will”. If you look back through the past 2,000 years there is an overwhelming legacy from Christians throughout every age and culture that proclaims “They Did”. It wasn’t because they were special; it was because they simply saw the places in their world where God’s Kingdom wasn’t evident and surrendered themselves to be part of the answer to the prayer “[God,] your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
How will you build God’s kingdom here and now?