Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World - Book Review

Like many other couples, my husband and I arranged for the reading of 1 Corinthians 13, “the Love Chapter”, at our wedding.  My best friend printed 1 Corinthians 13 on elegant paper and framed it for me to put on my wall, replacing the pronouns with my name and with my husband’s name as the object of my love.  But how often have I ever considered that chapter in the context of God’s instructions on what it means to love your neighbor as yourself?  Uh…never?? You mean I should keep no record of wrongs not only with my husband but also my boss and my crazy next-door neighbor?? I was awakened to this blind spot in my life by Ajith Fernando in his book Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World.

The greatest love comes at the greatest cost.  Ajith Fernando would know.  He grew up and ministered in Sri Lanka, and has not only studied 1 Corinthians 13 in depth, but has counseled with it, discipled with it, and lived it for at least 50 years.  In 19 chapters, he dissects the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 touching on topics of patience, kindness, envy, honor, boasting, arrogance, sensitivity, anger, truth, bitterness, forgiveness, judgment, perseverance, and grace.  He holds the reader captive with illustrations and practical explanations and remains faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture. 

The journey from the head to the heart can be long and complex, so we must repeatedly open ourselves up to the healing work of the Holy Spirit.  Ajith Fernando shows how we must learn to find a way to handle the weaknesses of others and then get on with the business of loving and enjoying them.  He reminds us that attempts to show kindness to others do not render us immune from misunderstanding and pain, yet he provides a list of things we can practice to exercise caution. 

Ajith Fernando says there is great value in a life devoted to love, even though it is costly.  Those who live in love experience joy, and joy, like love, comes from God and not from within a person.  We may be inconvenience or we must act against our natural instincts to follow a loving path.  Love might not be reciprocated, but the suffering of rejection deepens our love relationship with Christ.  He tells us why it’s worth it.

This book is not fluffy and frivolous, nor is it too academic or difficult.  Ajith Fernando strikes a perfect balance in between, and he inspires while being thought-provoking.  But Zondervan sure could have found a larger font that would have been easier on these over-40 eyes!  I would recommend this book for every Christian who wants to know what it really means to love one another and what that looks like, and I would recommend a magnifying glass or special reading glasses for those who have difficulty reading tiny print.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

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