I just heard of this book from a friend of mine, Amy Cathy (I also follow her blog -- "My Place in the Sun"). She mentioned that it was the first book she downloaded to her Kindle. I, too, got a Kindle for Christmas so I decided to see what the book was about. After reading the short description on Amazon, I decided I wanted to read it. So, I bought it with "one-click" and was able to start reading it about a minute later. :) I do love my Kindle!! (In case you have not heard of a Kindle, it's an e-book reader offered by Amazon. You can download somewhere around 1500 books on this little electronic device that is about the size of an average paperback, but is only about 1/4" thick. Most new releases are around $9.99 and there are thousands of books that are "public domain" that you can download for free.) Anyway, I only planned on beginning the book, but I just kept reading until I was done.
The book is based on a parable in the Bible from the book of Luke (Chapter 15) about the Prodigal Son. I've heard this parable many times and the times I've heard it, the emphasis has been on this prodigal son. However, this book brings to light not only the sins of the Prodigal Son, but also those of the elder brother. One of the features I really like about the Kindle is the ability to highlight passages within the books I read. The Kindle stores all those highlighted passages into a separate file called "my clippings." Throughout this book, I highlighted several passages that stood out to me. I wanted to share those with you.
"Religion operates on the principle of "I obey -- therefore I am accepted by God." The basic operating principle of the Gospel is "I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ -- therefore I obey."
"As Richard Lovelace has written: "[People] who are no longer sure that God loves and accepts them in Jesus, apart from their present spiritual achievements, are subconsciously radically insecure persons...Their insecurity shows itself in pride, a fierce, defensive assertion of their own righteousness, and defensive criticism of others. They come naturally to hate other cultural styles and other races in order to bolster their own security and discharge their suppressed anger."
"As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough for him. You simply aren't sure God loves and delights in you."
"Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn't mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness."
"Martin Luther's old formula still sums things up nicely: "We are saved by faith alone (not our works), but not by faith that remains alone." Nothing we do can merit God's grace and favor, we can only believe that he has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. But if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors. If we say "I believe in Jesus" but it doesn't affect the way we live, the answer is not that now we need to add hard work to our faith so much as that we haven't truly understood or believed in Jesus at all."
As you can see, I really liked this book! I liked that it brought to light that you can take "doing the right thing" to the extreme. Our service to God should come from the heart. Not because it's what we are "supposed to do."
I'm so thankful for a Heavenly Father full of grace and mercy!!