It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Kregel Publications (June 3, 2009)
Dave Greber is an attorney in private practice. As a leader in his community, he has been interviewed by television, radio, and newspaper reporters and has served on the boards of several community organizations. Dave and his wife, Lynne, cofounded Live Faith Ministries, an organization teaching Christians how to experience the amazing joy of Christ.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (June 3, 2009)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” That’s what my pastor preached, quoting the Golden Rule from Luke 6:31. It was an ordinary Sunday, and I settled in for a good sermon on a very familiar theme. As I listened, I looked through the four Gospels to read what Jesus said about love.
And then my eyes landed on twenty words that changed my life: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
I’d been a Christian for twenty-five years. How could I have missed this commandment? But when I talked to my Christian friends about it, they too seemed to have missed it. Every person I asked about Jesus’ new commandment answered me with a blank stare.
No problem, I thought. Somewhere there must be shelves of books about the new commandment. After all, it was among Jesus’ last words at the Last Supper. He even repeated it (John 15:12, 17). And it’s been two thousand years since the new commandment was given. It’s not so new anymore.
So I went looking. I asked my most devout Christian friends whether they knew of any books on the new commandment. I went to Christian bookstores. I searched the Internet. I went to a seminary library. I found almost nothing—and nothing at all of book-length—on what I now consider to be the “Lost Commandment.”
I continued to study John 13–16. As I did—as I realized the significance of the Lost Commandment and in particular the surprising link between obedience to the Lost Commandment and joy—my life changed. Jesus said, in effect, “Do you want me to take joy in you? Do you want to experience complete joy? Then do this: love others as I have loved you!” (John 15:10–12, author’s paraphrase).
Practicing obedience to the Lost Commandment brings our faith alive—a faith that results in an amazing, joy-filled life. We discover God’s purpose for our lives. We experience Jesus’ presence and become more like him as we love others the way he loves us. The Lost Commandment also changes our prayer lives. It enables us to better understand God’s will on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis. Our relationships improve as we love others the way Jesus loves us. And those who don’t know Jesus sense his presence in our lives and want to know more about him. No other verse—including the Golden Rule—better summarizes how God expects Christians to treat other people.
Jesus wants us to experience the complete joy of knowing his will. He doesn’t want us to live our lives wondering, “What would Jesus do?” Instead, he wants us to know the answer to “What did Jesus do?” And then he wants us to do likewise in the power of the Holy Spirit.
This book is a practical guide to loving others in obedience to the Lost Commandment. Two premises guide the way this book is organized and written. The first is that we must focus on the Lost Commandment itself in order to follow it. Jesus said that our obedience to this commandment brings joy to him and complete joy to us. And in chapter 1, I describe some of the ways we experience this joy, which thrives even in the midst of pain and adversity.
The Lost Commandment is different from the Golden Rule. That’s why Jesus called it “new.” No doubt, the world would be a much better place if everyone did follow the Golden Rule. But true as this statement is, it misses the point: Jesus commanded us to go into the world teaching others everything that he had commanded us (Matt. 28:20). In chapter 2, then, I explain how the Golden Rule is different from the Lost Commandment, and why I believe Jesus intended to replace the Golden Rule with the Lost Commandment.
The second premise of this book is that everything that Jesus has done for humankind throughout history, as revealed in the Bible or experienced in our individual lives, is both an expression of his love for us and an example of how we are expected to love others. Therefore, to obey the Lost Commandment, we have to become students of Jesus’ love for us so that we can better love others in this same way. Part of what brings us joy as we obey the Lost Commandment is, in fact, having a better understanding of the depth and breadth of Christ’s love for us.
Whether you agree with the first premise of this book or not, the second premise stands on its own. It is not controversial, and represents the majority of the teaching of this book (chapters 1, and 3 through 18). As followers of Jesus, we are called to demonstrate his presence in our lives by the way that we love others (John 13:35). His life is our life example (John 13:15; 1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Tim. 1:16; 1 Peter 2:21).
As we study Jesus’ love for us, particularly as revealed in the New Testament, we discover that it has six major elements that follow a logical sequence and yield practical principles for our lives with God and others. Parts 2 through 7 of this book express these elements as themes.
To follow Jesus, we must have a close, personal relationship with God, whose love for us can heal the pain in our lives, as we follow in Jesus’ loving footsteps (part 2).
Our relationship with God requires us to accept Christ’s mission to transform our lives, and to bring others into a close, personal relationship with God. We do our part primarily by paying Jesus’ love forward to others with the help of the Holy Spirit (part 3).
Our mission, like Christ’s, is an expression of humility toward God and others (part 4).
As we follow Jesus’ example, our humble dependence on God enables us to tap into God’s power through obedience to his commands, the most important of which is to love others as Jesus has loved us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power and understanding that we need to obey God as we speak with God, study his Word, and learn from others who follow Jesus (part 5).
Our humble obedience to Christ leads us to forgive and serve others. God’s forgiveness (part 6) makes it possible for us to become reconciled to him. He commands us to forgive others as he has forgiven us, and he empowers us to reconcile with them. He also helps us to act as peacemakers who help others find peace with each other.
As Christ lived his life on earth in service to us (part 7), so he calls us to serve others as though we were serving Jesus himself. We are called to give time and money to those most in need, according to the priorities God gives to each of us.
This book provides more, though, than an overview and a framework for understanding Jesus’ love. It also contains insights and illustrations that demonstrate how to allow Jesus’ love to flow to others through our lives. Whether you don’t know Jesus, you’ve just met him, or you’ve known him for years, this book will help you experience the complete joy that comes from loving others as he has loved us.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will use this book to help you find the only love that brings complete joy, and that leads not merely to life but to abundant life.