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5 Stars Out Of 5
A stirring book
October 27, 2011
In Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe, Johnnie Moore, vice president and campus pastor of Liberty University, challenges readers to live an authentic Christian life. He argues that one of the chief problems with Christians, particularly those in the US and other developed countries, is that we have become hypocrites, whether intentionally or otherwise. We need to start living what we say we believe.
I found this book to be inspiring. Through a variety of stories and musings, Moore unpacks what authenticity looks like and what we need to do to have an impact on our world. One of my favorite things about this book is the author's own authenticity. Moore goes to great lengths to be honest with readers about his own shortcomings and struggles. That combined with his conversational writing style yields a book that is big on conviction and inspiration without feeling preachy.
This book seems targeted at millennials, the author's own generation, but is well-suited for people of all ages. I feel transformed and convicted after reading this book and I urge you to read it as well.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advance reading copy of this book free from Harvest House Publishers via netGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
"This book is about becoming spiritually healthy by identifying and combating soul sickness that threatens to weaken our faith and inhibit it from producing the appropriate actions in our lives." (16) Hypocrisy threatens the livelihood of our faith. Healthy Christians face hypocrisy straight on.
Moore knows about hypocrisy. He grew up in a church where everyone faked living the wonderful Christian life. The phoney smile of his parents hid a marriage heading for disaster. The phoney smiles of their pastor to whom they went for help hid his affair. Moore's world fell apart with the divorce and his father's attempted suicide (in his presence).
Moore knows hypocrisy hurts yourself and others. Moore asks his readers to go with him on his journey to authentic faith. He takes you through his doubting God, then visiting Bosnia and Rwanda, seeing the reality of evil, and then knowing there must be a real God.
He outlines five steps to becoming serious about your spirituality: pray, read the bible, think, write, do. But it is the "doing" that is the problem. "Do what God tells you to do. It's not enough to just believe. _ And it's a matter of life or death. All the spiritual passion and activity we can muster will be totally useless if we never decide to submit to that truth and actually practice it in our daily lives." (95) The challenge is the battle of your will. We must daily submit our will to His.
Part of our trouble: "we care too much about what the Bible says and not enough about what it means." (103) Churches need to let go of things not essential to salvation. The devil wants to keep your mind off eternal things. "We need to transform our thinking. Every moment of every day is an opportunity for us to know God better and show His love to the world." (107)
Why does God allow our lives to be hard? Perhaps it is for us to learn the lessons we can learn only by persevering in hardship.
Today, being a Christian is easy, provided it is just an internal and selfish faith. Moore encourages his readers to start living what they say they believe, and see God at work. He gives several inspiring examples of people doing exactly that.
"Our soul is begging us to turn away from what we think is important and focus on what really is important. The remedy for our dissatisfaction is paying attention to our soul and to God's desire for our lives, and to live for the glory of God and the good of man." (195)
Moore has written this book "to help you crawl out of the mire of Christian culture, to discover real faith, and begin to see your world through fresh eyes." (198) He wants you to have a living, breathing, experimental faith.
Johnnie Moore's thoughtful and challenging book Honestly takes a close look at how to actually live by what you believe, not in theory, but in reality. In a time when the true reality of what it means to be a follower of Christ seems to be quickly dwindling, this book is a seriously important and vital work. Drawing from how the early church followed Jesus, Moore asks questions about how our own twenty-first century lives don't measure up to the kind of dedication and commitment the early Christians displayed.
I found myself challenged and disturbed by some of Moore's honesty, in a way I haven't been with other books of a similar nature. Using his own painful experiences of a broken home and a glib pretence of Christianity as a cover for what was really going on, Moore takes a look at how Christianity often becomes a veneer that hides great pain, loss of faith, or simply a lack of belief that it can actually transform life. He expresses his disappointment with this type of Christianity, and it is this honesty, this willingness to speak the hard truth about our modern Christianity, that gives this book its value and its quality of disturbance. Above all, it perhaps questions our desire to live life undisturbed by our Christianity, to live Christianity on our terms rather than Christ's.
The basis of the book is that it really is possible to live a vibrant, passionate life in Christ that changes your relation to the world and the people around you. Moore addresses my own questions about how faith in modern life seems to lack any relevance, vitality or ability to illuminate and guide one's life. He looks at how suffering, doubt, evil, the frenetic pace and distractions of the digital life, our work, our boredoms, our rebellions and our crises can all be transformed into a real life in Christ that is exciting, alive, and above all, honest.
If you find anywhere within yourself a desire to know how to live a genuine life in Christ outside of all the pretence, of all the loss of belief in its ability to transform, and in a manner that strips away everything about Christianity that is false, boring, and irrelevant, I would highly recommend this book as a starting point.