Sometimes Christianity can be confusing. There are so many churches, looking at the Bible in so many ways. Frankly, some seem so far removed from what God teaches, it is hard to imagine they consider themselves Christian. Yet, as Christian parents, we not only have to figure out how to teach everything in the Bible to our children, but help them learn how to actually live what they read.
Recently, I was given the chance to review the new book Be the Message: Taking Your Faith Beyond Words to a Life of Action by Kerry and Chris Shook. Throughout, the authors attempt to help readers understand what living God’s Words – being the message in their terms, looks like on a day to day basis.
Each chapter covers a different area of living the Christian life authentically. Although it is not a parenting book, one of my favorite quotes is written to parents. “They (children) heard that message because it was the message he (father) lived. They heard it, applied it to their own lives and passed the message on to their children. It carried across all the clutter and confusion in their lives, above everything else that was said, past all the wrongly guided decisions, because it was the one message that was clearly and consistently lived before them.” (page 26)
Christian parents can take their children to church and pray at meals, but if they are not authentically, clearly and consistently living their faith out in front of their children, the message won’t be absorbed by them. The Shooks address everything from active forgiveness to active love. They encourage readers to tackle issues God puts in front of them whether they are next door or in a country thousands of miles away. The authors even step into an area most authors want to avoid – turning painful events into ways to glorify and serve God, with compassion and grace.
Perhaps my two favorite ideas in the book are those of holy silence and holy disturbance. While they are not biblical terms per se, I think the authors are right. Too often, we keep ourselves so busy, we cannot hear the whispers God places on our hearts to act. We keep ourselves so safely in our comfort zones, we cannot imagine tackling the problems in front of us with God even though the problems disturb us greatly.
There are really only a couple of things I would change about this book. First, it always saddens me when people who so obviously love God and want to serve Him remain oblivious to the scriptures commanding baptism. My other is more a suggestion for what will probably become a workbook or a second book for the authors (they can feel free to forward my commission to my favorite Christian orphanage!). Although the authors gave a few examples of specific things people could do in each area, often they are big ideas. I think someone not used to living their faith out in active ways, being the message, will need more ideas and ones more realistic for someone starting to change their lives in such drastic ways.
If you are a parent, I think this book gives you a lot to think about. Are your children hearing “God” words, but not seeing God lived out in your life? Do they never see you stepping out on a limb to serve and share your faith? You may be surprised if they later reject the faith you thought you have taught them. In reality, they needed you to show them how to live it. This book might be the tool you need to change some things in order to show your children how to “be the message” themselves.
If you don’t take anything else away from this book, I think pondering this statement may just change everything for you. “I refuse to come to the end of my life and realize I missed my one and only chance with my one and only life to give my all to the one who gave His life for me.” (page 181)
A copy of this book was given to me for free in exchange for my honest review.