Be the Message: Taking Your Faith Beyond Words to a Life of Action
“One of the greatest proofs of the resurrection of Christ is a life that's been transformed by His love. Kerry and Chris Shook awaken us to the powerful truth that the tomb is empty so our lives can be filled with Jesus. BE THE MESSAGE will take you on the life-altering adventure of being the voice, hands, feet, and heart of our lord to a lost and hurting world.”
--- Lee Strobel, bestselling author of THE CASE FOR CHRIST
Or, as St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying: Preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words. Which is a source of relief to those who want to share their faith but, for one reason or another, would rather do so with actions instead of words.
Chris Shook, as a pastor, has spent much of his adult life using words and, at some point, realized that there was a huge disconnect between what he was preaching and the way many Christians actually live their lives. “In the midst of all that noise, the Christian message often becomes just another slogan.” So, the teachings and sermons have become part of today’s information overload, rather than producing the abundant life that Jesus promised. In BE THE MESSAGE, Kerry and his wife, Chris, explore ways that Christians can become more than simply hearers of the word. By stepping out in faith, they can actually live the life it teaches.
"BE THE MESSAGE would make a good small group study, especially if those involved are already looking for ways to reach out to their community. Each chapter ends with some suggestions for scripture reading and a challenge to put what's been learned into action."
The Shooks maintain, “The human heart cries out for an authentic life, a life that is outwardly consistent with the things we believe in our hearts and know to be true.” It is the disconnect, the disparity between what the Bible professes Christianity to be and the way that Christians are perceived. This is why “so many are quick to launch the h word (hypocrisy) at people in the church...our words don't match our actions.”
Although Jesus and the disciples did not have the Bible, they were able to “be the message” by the way they lived their faith. And, after Jesus' death and resurrection, they continued taking the Good News to all the known world, putting their trust and faith in God, helping those in need, healing the sick and sharing God's love.
BE THE MESSAGE is not a book that is designed to propel Christians out into the mission field, into strange lands far from home where people speak a different language and aren't too friendly toward foreigners. Rather, it encourages us to recognize our own uniqueness; to discover our individual talents and gifts so that we can bring love, joy, help, food and hope to someone in desperate need. Being the message can be as simple as extending forgiveness to a person who has wronged you or showing kindness to the office grouch. It's not about doing something huge that will change a nation but about doing something that will enrich both the giver and the receiver.
Like much of the Bible, there is a paradox in play with this concept. While living out the gospel is simple, it's not always easy. When one decides to become a Christian, it's a simple process: no papers to sign, no contract necessary. However, after the decision is made, one begins to realize that there is a lot more to it than wearing a new label and attending church regularly. It begins to become apparent that the more you put into your new-found faith, the more you will be blessed. You learn to look for the lesson in problems, for the good that will result when the problem is faced and solved.
BE THE MESSAGE would make a good small group study, especially if those involved are already looking for ways to reach out to their community. Each chapter ends with some suggestions for scripture reading and a challenge to put what's been learned into action. Again, nothing huge --- just a beginning in this new adventure.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on December 16, 2014