The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life
Reading a Gary Thomas book is like popping off the lid to a fine box of chocolates. You want to consume it slowly, enjoying every flavor, every nuance, every bit of satisfaction possible. His latest book, THE BEAUTIFUL FIGHT, is no exception.
Using classic Christian stories of Francis of Assisi and Perpetua as a launching pad, Thomas argues that many Christians today have lost touch with the sense of glory that so many of the great saints who have gone before us possessed. He compellingly asks, “Is the Christianity taught today large enough to seize our hearts? Does its promise of transformation so compel us that we would give all we have to take hold of it?” Then, he tenderly invites readers into an exploration of life, scripture, history and experience that offers a solid answer of “Yes” to both questions.
Thomas points to 2 Timothy 4:7, a scripture in which Paul asserts that he has fought the good fight and finished the race. He says that Orthodox fathers looked at and translated this passage differently. Instead of classifying the fight as good, they described it as beautiful, and that’s how we should look at the Christian journey. The path of real transformation and service is wrought with passion, drama, struggle and all the ingredients that make the human spirit not just come alive but feel alive. That is the invitation we are given as followers of Christ.
The book is divided into three sections: Splashes of Glory; New Spirit, New Bodies; and Embracing the High Call and Duty of Personal Transformation. In essence, the book is a call to action that invites readers to go one level deeper in their faith and experience and surrender even more. It closes with questions for discussion and reflection that are helpful for readers and book discussion groups.
Throughout THE BEAUTIFUL FIGHT, Thomas touches on larger themes and issues that the body of Christ is wrestling through. One of the most significant is the difference between being known as a people for what we are against rather than what we are for. Thomas says that, as Christians, we can be defined as human beings who are markedly different and graced with power, not just knowledge of God. He believes that Christians can be wholly transformed so they are given eyes that really see, ears that really hear, minds that really think and hands, feet and hearts that are used by God. Instead of working for God, we are invited to work with God. The shift may seem subtle but is nonetheless significant.
Overall, THE BEAUTIFUL FIGHT is an incredibly well-written, graceful book that issues a call not only for a vibrant faith but also for an engaging faith. While acknowledging that the world is a messy, sloppy place, Thomas invites believers to get involved, love and be transformed. It isn’t easy but it’s rewarding. Like a box of fine chocolates, this book is best enjoyed in multiple sittings and savored with good friends.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on October 30, 2007