Eugene Peterson --- pastor, scholar and translator of The Message Bible --- believes that after you encounter the resurrection of Jesus, everything changes. When the resurrection becomes the center of your spiritual formation, then you are brought to a place of renewal in your walk with God.
Peterson argues that resurrection isn't something that we give much attention to in our DIY, self-help society that often puts more emphasis on results than the process it takes to arrive there. He invites readers to engage in resurrection wonder and cultivate a sense of awe in their relationship with God. Peterson believes that much of the wonder of our lives is lost because we spend so much time working. Our jobs become a place where we fulfill demands and give into the tyranny of the urgent. As a result, any sense of awe is lost in what we do and subsequently in our lives. Peterson believes we can recapture the wonder by taking the Sabbath seriously.
He writes: "These days, the secular world around us is giving considerable attention to Sabbath-keeping. Corporations have discovered its benefits in health, relationships, and even in productivity in the workplace. Articles and books are showing up touting the wonderful returns that come from rest, from breaking workaholic compulsions, and so forth. All this may be true. But that's not why we keep the Sabbath. We are not primarily interested in a longer life or emotional maturity or a better golf game. We're interested in God and Christ being formed in us. We're interested in spiritual formation-by-resurrection."
In addition to keeping the Sabbath, Peterson invites us to embrace the resurrection through our meals. Reflecting on the Emmaus supper and Jesus's breakfast with the disciples on the beach, we're invited to remember Christ's presence in our lives and at our meals. In the process, we're invited to recapture some of the depth of life that comes when we break bread with others over a prolonged meal and not just grab a quick bite of fast food together. We are encouraged to invite Jesus in the very ordinariness of our lives.
Finally, Peterson challenges us to embrace the resurrection of fellowship in our relationships. We are invited to partake of relationships not just with each other but to understand the holy relationship of the Trinity. He writes: "Going over this final round of resurrection stories, we get a deepened sense that Jesus' resurrection involves us with others. It forms bonds of friendships. It initiates us into a company of men, women, and children who can no longer understand themselves as autonomous selves, independent from one another."
Overall, LIVING THE RESURRECTION is an extremely well-written and thought-provoking book that pushes readers beyond spiritual insights and into the realm of spiritual formation. Peterson pokes, prods and uncovers the heart issues behind the way we live our lives and invites us to come into a deeper life --- one rooted and fueled by Christ alone. This is a wonderful resource for Easter, and its insights and wisdom should be embraced year-round.
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg on January 4, 2006