Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book Review: Mark Greene - The Best Idea in the World

The Best Idea in the World is a deceptively simple book, calling the Church back to its primary calling of loving God and loving others.

The idea, of course, is both profound and essential, the lifelong task of all who take their faith seriously. The commands are there, we know the call, but how to live it out in our 21st Century world seems to elude many.

This is the exciting part of Greene's work. While he lays a good biblical groundwork, while he does his theology, he spends the bulk of his time exploring what love and relationship look like to those just trying to survive, to make it through today, to the lonely and the lost and the broken. Through story, example, and suggestion, Greene offers help in learning to live out our call in the marketplace, in the train station, in the office, at home, in our churches. Real people and their very real problems pepper the pages of The Best Idea. This is not so much a book for pastors as for those who get up and head to the public workplace every day.

But let me be clear about something else: while making the case that it is our call and duty to love God and love others, Greene shows us that this is no drudgery, no mundane task, no law to be followed. For it all begins with the fact that God loves us, that God chooses to be in relation to us. That God is present, seen in Jesus and the Spirit; that God is faithful and will never leave, that God is close to us and for us in this world. We can experience the fulfillment of our own deepest longings, our own loneliness, our own quiet desperation as we live into our relationship with God. As we do that, we can turn and share that love with the world around us. And as we do, we will see God's Kingdom lived out in our lives, and in the lives of those around us.

As I said, it's also a simple book. The kind that takes a couple days to read, the kind you can carry along and read in the waiting room of your doctor's office (I did) or on a plane flight (my current location). It's the kind of book that skims along nicely, and then arrests your thinking with a profound nugget, forcing you to stop and reconsider the ways you live in the world, the choice you make, the ways you treat people around you. If you're not the type to read much, even if you don't think you have time to read, this is the book for you. Interesting, stimulating, full of stories, the kind of book with real feet on the real ground. And it's about the most important thing on earth, so it can't hurt to give it a go. I recommend that you do.

Thanks to Zondervan for sending me a free copy for use in this review.

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