taking the words of Jesus seriously

 

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Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Red Letter Book Club, featuring Margot Starbuck’s book, “Small Things With Great Love.”

I grew up solidly planted in conservative-Protestant-Christian soil with roots going back to Billy Graham, Billy Sunday, and all the way to the pilgrims. My faith tradition taught me the command to love my neighbor as myself and as far as I was concerned I lived this out. I was a devoted youth group attendee. I went on every spring break mission trip to Appalachia and I was even a student leader on our summer mission trip to Mexico. (gold stars on my crown!)

After graduating from high school, I went to a solidly planted conservative-Protestant-Christian college with roots going back to Billy Graham, Billy Sunday et all. I continued to live out the command to love my neighbor. I even tutored once a week in the inner city my junior year. Yet as time went on, as my faith grew, as my world-view expanded, I wanted… no, I needed more.

Starbuck’s Small Things With Great Love is the guide I needed at that point in my life. My heart was sincere, my faith was real, and yet I felt disconnected from how I could make a real difference in the lives of those around me or in the lives of those on the other side of the world suffering. I spent years searching, if not blatantly, indeed subconsciously – aware of an unrest and a desire for a more satisfying relationship with God, with my faith, and with my fellow man.

Margot Starbuck’s no-nonsense narrative invites the reader to get real. To confront our faith, who we believe God is, who we believe we are as His children, and why it matters – for us and for those around us. Small Things With Great Love is in the tradition of Henri Nouwen who often taught on compassion and searching for God. He explains, “Here we are touching the profound spiritual truth that service is an expression of the search for God and not just of the desire to bring about individual or social change.”

Do we want to make a difference for a specific individual? Yes. Do we want to be Christians who stand up to poverty, disease and oppression of any kind? Yes. Starbuck effortlessly compels us, as with Nouwen, that all this do-goodery has a Holy end: We find God.

In this “choose your own adventure” read, we find life is indeed an adventure of living and loving when we find God and tag along to where he is going.

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