What does it mean to love God with everything? What does it look like to love God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength? In order to get to the heart of the Christian faith, Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church and bestselling author of IN A PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY, explores these and other issues in his latest book. PRIMAL examines what it means to love God wholly.
The book is divided into four segments. The first explores the heart of Christianity. Batterson suggests that loving God means we will love the things He loves and in the process reflect His passionate and compassionate heart. The fruit of loving God with everything is that it transforms the way we live from the inside out. He writes: “If you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you cannot be okay with suffering or injustice or starvation. Why? Because His heart is in you. And His heart beats for the suffering, the victim, the poor, and the needy. If you are a Christ follower, then you have been drafted into an army of compassion that knows no enemy but those things that break the heart of God.”
When Batterson looks at the soul of Christianity, he challenges readers to grab hold of the wonder of God. He inspires his audience to look at the mystery and majesty of God that exceeds our comprehension. In examining the mind of Christianity, we are encouraged to use our brains to their potential and become lifelong learners who use our imaginations and capacity to innovate to share our faith.
“The New Testament Greek word translated as ‘disciple’ comes from a root that means ‘learner.’ By definition, a disciple is someone who never stops learning. A true disciple makes the most of the hundred billion brain cells God has put on loan to him. A true disciple loves more because she knows more. A true disciple is consumed with holy curiosity that doesn’t take yes for an answer. The disciple keeps asking and seeking and knocking. And the quest is never over because the questions never end.”
The shortest (and weakest) part of the book is on the strength of Christianity, which reminds readers that good old fashioned hard work is part of the prescription for building the kingdom of God. While this section is poignant and moving, it fails to reach the levels attained by the chapters on the heart, mind and soul.
Regardless, the book is a triumph, partly due to Batterson drawing on examples and experiences from his own life. He shares how one of the turning points in his life came when he stopped setting income goals and started establishing giving goals. He describes how this paradigm shift impacted the way he lived and looked at life. His most memorable stories are the ones in which he describes a moment when God spoke to him. These life stories will resonate with you.
The overall tone of the book is inspirational. The easy-to-read chapters are dotted with insights from psychology, encouraging anecdotes and memorable stories. PRIMAL will challenge not only the way you think but the way you live.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on December 22, 2009