The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn
This book was a puzzle to me because I really think there are some good truths here alongside some confusing points. By framing the tenor of the book through the ‘gospel of yes,’ Glenn gives the reader a many examples of what he means by this very statement. Early on in the book, Glenn writes that “When you accept the “yes” of Christ’s redemptive grace and respond with the “yes” of faith, everything finds its rightful place. Your life finds order, meaning, and its rightful fit in your community” (23). As Christ said yes in submitting himself to the Father’s will joyfully, so we as Christians say yes to God’s grace in salvation and work that out in the context of a believing community. What I did like about this initial chapter is his focus on finding our rest in the things that we stand behind, support and put our energy into. Often, Christians are known for what they oppose rather than what they support. Part of this might be the way Christians frame their voice in our culture. For instance, if someone is against abortion this is often seen as an anti-abortionist stance. Flipping the other side of the coin, we might be more inclined to be heard if we frame our thoughts as promoting the sacredness of life at any age, in any form from birth to death. To put in concretely, to be pro-life is not a position that limits itself to the time of conception but to all aspects of life.
Mike Glenn goes to great lengths to promote a way of living the Christian life that moves away from the avoidance of sin, the attitude of fleeing things that seem to have a hold on us. Too long “The church taught us we’re worms, and the world does its part by telling us about all the things we are not” (40). I think what Glenn is getting at is that the church has too long been a source of fear driven motivation. Promoting holiness by implementing fear doesn’t work very well in building the kind of Christian life that churches desire. I do think there is a healthier way of promoting discipleship in the church than bringing about dread in the hearts and lives of our people. Yet, I do think Glenn tips the scales too far in this chapter. We are to promote holiness by resting in God’s yes in providing Christ as our identity, Savior and hope while also doing battle with sin, avoiding it through the power of the Spirit. If you want to quit smoking, you have to replace the act of taking up a cigarette with a healthy activity. But, you have to avoid those areas that will tempt you to smoke (gas station, smoking restaurant, pool hall) also. The vision of the Christian life is positive obedience to Christ through good works and an avoidance or fleeing from sin and its destructive power.
Mike’s chapter on authentic relationships is excellent. He unpacks the understanding of God’s love not out of sense of need but out of a sense of generosity. He writes, “Loving people will drive you to love God more” (157). As we love people in a compassionate merciful way, we see the needs of others and respond in a gracious manner. We also see that God’s love has no end, thus, our love should be shed on others without end. Although we cannot fulfill the needs of every person we come into contact with, the outpouring of God’s love in our hearts become overwhelmingly evident in our care for them. Mike goes onto talk about how a marriage would look if we loved with a type of love that expects nothing back. If we don’t expect a response we are motivated not by controlling someone else but to see them blessed in a huge way.
I really like the last few chapters of this book. Although the concept of Yes and the interpretation of some passages was not what I’d hoped for, many of the things were uplifting here. I hope people are blessed and encouraged by this book.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah Blogging for Books for the review copy of this book in exchange for review.