Mark Batterson might just be a modern-day Barnabas. An encourager in the faith. You cannot read his books or hear his messages without walking away with a strengthened conviction in the God of the Impossible.
This is the primary reason that I am always excited to read his latest release. Picking up All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life was no exception.
I appreciate his voice in my life and therefore have read everything that he has published thus far. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day dared me redefine what obedience to Christ actually should look like. The Circle-Maker prompted me to pray while clarifying my call to plant Blue Bridge Church.
He is such a gifted wordsmith and masterful storyteller. All In is probably his most well-written book. But the simplicity and uniqueness of Primal is still my all-time favorite. That being said, and I have expressed this concern before, but I feel as if I have read great portions of this material elsewhere. I understand the need for Batterson, under a new publisher in Zondervan, to reintroduce himself to a much broader audience. But I am looking for him to branch out of many of his more comfortable topics and stories. Will he write something that is far different in experience or approach with his next work? The problem is that we will have to now wait nearly two more years to find out.
But back to the actual book. The most challenging chapter had to be the one titled “Crash the Party”. Batterson quotes “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [who once] stated, ‘Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be'” (840).
He goes on to say, “The Pharisees reduced this woman [who anointed Jesus’ feet] to a label – sinner. And we do the same. We give people political labels, sexual labels, and religious labels. But in the process, we strip them of their individuality and complexity. Prejudice is pre-judging. It’s assuming that bad stories end badly, but Jesus is in the business of turning bad beginnings into happily ever afters . . . Jesus loved, praised, and rewarded one thing: desperation for God that superseded decorum. Jesus loved spiritual desperadoes” (864).
What a powerful reminder to the church. To not see people for who they are (or for who we think they are) but instead to approach them as who they are becoming (or at least who they could become) in Christ. Do we not only want the best for them but actually believe the best for them?
Pick up the book and let me know what you think.