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The Very Good Gospel

The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper

What we need in this world is a vision that reaches down to the nitty gritty of broken relationships and brings healing, hope, and dignity.  Lisa Sharon Harper, chief church engagement office at Sojourners (Jim Wallis) has written a hard hitting and challenging book on the gospel and the way shalom enters our lives and the lives of those around us.  Her experience with racial issues, injustice, and systemic brokenness gives her a trustworthy voice in the way believers can bring healing to our world. 

What makes this book a real game changer for believers and those interested in changing culture?  One, the gospel that Lisa promotes is one that is interested in the impoverished, oppressed, and broken, not only those who are broken by their own sin.  The good news is not good news to all if it is not reaching these groups of people.  Second, Lisa centers her discussion of the gospel around the concept of shalom, “for the emphatic goodness of all relationships (15).”  This book looks at God’s vision for all of creation, which includes a restored relationship between humans and God, but also how the interconnectedness of human relationships can be made whole again. 

In her chapter on Shalom and Self, Lisa draws on the work of Dr. Brene Brown to bring out some truths about shame, vulnerability, and shalom.  Lisa writes, “Shalom says we are all connected.  Every relationship created by God is strung together in a web of intimate relationships.  To affect one is to affect all.  So when our distrust of God leads us to separate ourselves from God, we also are separated from ourselves (73).”  Self-doubt, destructive behavior, and shame produce an amazing amount of unhealthy choices.  The reverse is also true, when we trust God, we give ourselves opportunities to be vulnerable and are at peace with ourselves and others. 

On the chapter on Shalom between Genders, Lisa offers some suggestions about how to go about healing the divide between genders and also our prejudices.  She states that listening to the stories of women, lamenting the way the church and world has treated them, and engaging in confession and repentance are a few ways to start on the right track. 

Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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