Those of you out there who loved The Shack will probably find this book by Margaret Feinberg to be helpful in determining where to go next in your relationship with God. In this book, Margaret Feinberg asks us to imagine what it would be like to have a relationship with God that is true and pure, free from all the pollutants of preconceived notions, thoughts, and biases that we may have. She shows us several attributes of God that we may never have considered or have forgotten about, infusing it with stories of her own experience of God at various seasons of life going from early childhood all the way to the present.
We all have the tendency to see God through the grid of our preconceived notions and biases. We may favor certain parts of Scripture and read others with a been-there, done-that attitude which denies the possibility that God could speak to us freshly through it. What’s more, we compartmentalize God, welcoming Him into certain areas of our lives while shutting Him out of others. We treat the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, journaling, etc. as items to be checked off a list and not experiences to be savored and enjoyed. As a result, our understanding of God becomes clouded, just like the smog of a major city. We don’t even notice it until the itchy eyes and the warnings of scientists tell us just how bad it has become.
This is why Margaret Feinberg describes God as organic. The organic lifestyle is one that is simple, healthful, and close to nature. These are all qualities that we should desire in our relationship with God. We should crave a relationship with God that is not altered by additives that promise to make it bigger, better, or more flavorful than it really is. In order to get there, we need to strip through all our false perceptions of God. This can be painful, but if we really want to know God for who He really is, we have no choice but to go there.
Over the course of the rest of the book, Margaret Feinberg introduces us to the attributes of this Organic God. Among other things, He is bighearted, beautiful, wise, stubborn, and mysterious. In each chapter she describes her experience of a certain attribute of God at a certain season of her life.
There is just one bone that I have to pick with her, and that is with using the question “What do you love about Jesus?” as a way to witness to others. I respect what she says when she says that sharing one’s faith is not a matter of coercion, but a matter of connection. I fully agree with that. But given the culture that currently exists within evangelical Protestant-dom as it concerns sharing one’s faith, I think that to many people, that question is likely to become nothing more than just another tool to dominate conversations and force people to the point of making a “decision”. People who look at sharing one’s faith as a matter of coercion are likely to look at this question as a gimmick that can enable them to do the job more effectively.
You already know the issues that I have with the whole concept of “witnessing” within evangelical Protestant-dom. They are well documented on this blog and I will not rehash them here.
I could tell you more about it, but then what would be the point of your reading the book? You need to get this book and read it for yourselves.