I was cutting multiple pieces of string to 8 inches in length. First, I measured the original strand and snipped. I used it as a pattern for length of my 2nd one and snipped. Then I used the 2nd one to measure the 3rd one and snipped. By the time I got to my 15th string, it looked significantly longer than my first one. When I measured it, it wasn’t 8 inches, but 8 ¾ inches. By failing to use the original as my pattern or measured each strand individually, I fell off track. The same thing can happen to our faith when we start mimicking other believers rather than measuring against the original source, Jesus.
Wayne Cordeiro tells a similar story about cutting planks of wood to build a fence and relates it to our faith in Jesus – always go back to the true original. If you don’t, you’ll slowly go off. This is the premise of his book Jesus: Pure and Simple. We must be willing to correct the drift. He claims to show us how to focus on what matters most, which in turn changes how we see the world around us. Then everything else falls into place. And what matters most is Jesus – pure and simple. Sounds a little bit like prosperity gospel, but perhaps that depends on how we define “falls into place.” I was not reading this book through a prosperity gospel lens.
Before this book, I had not heard of Wayne Cordeiro, founder and senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, so I do not know what he preaches or what he stands for, and I did not approach the book with presupposed bias. (After doing some research, I guess I’ve been in an isolated bubble to not have heard of him!) He uses Scripture, re-tells Bible narrative, and illustrates using both famous and unknown Christians to support his points of how we can get back to Jesus, pure and simple. Short questions at the end of chapter can be used for individual reflection or group discussion.
When I started this book, I was so excited about what I read in the first few pages that I told a dear friend that she just had to read it too! In the first half of the book he presented his points in living the spiritual life in a fresh way that really resonated with me. He shared about pure and simple devotion, how it’s not about doing more OR doing less. We tend to measure our worth by how many are following what we say and do on Twitter or Facebook rather than how close we are following what Jesus is saying or doing. He claims distraction is one of the fiercest enemies to following Jesus. And he provides the solutions.
He also shows what it means to truly be a servant of Christ, ways to make sure you’re walking where Jesus is walking. We find Him when we serve. (Hmmmm…is this contradictory to the idea of devotion about not doing more or doing less?)
He touches on a gamut of worthwhile topics that brings us back to Jesus - the error of the modern-day Pharisee, problems of self-righteousness and judgment, the value of solitude, letting the Word study you instead of just studying the Word, reflecting on our experiences and letting the past tutor us (instead of torture us)…. and he claims the answer is pure and simple. But I disagree. It’s a battle that we must fight for and work toward for as long as we walk in this flesh in this world.
I changed my mind about insisting my dear friend read the book after I dragged through the second half of this book, which was much more shallow and uninteresting. I didn’t underline anything after page 92 (of 200 pages).
At the end, I had a hard time pinpointing just exactly what the book was about. Still, while he bounces around from topic to topic, I found the book worth reading to help me keep my eyes on Jesus and become more like Him. I think it’s a good read.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.