Monday, August 18, 2008

The Shack

This book by William P. Young has raised quite a bit of controversy. I have just finished reading it and found that it was very insightful and well written. I'm not a theologian so I'm not going to try to deal with the finer points, but I was challenged by what it said about love and judgement. I like to read books that challenge me and this book did accomplish that end.

In Chapter Eleven, Mack has an encounter with Sophia - a personification of God's perfect wisdom. When he is invited to be the judge, Mack claims that he has no experience at judging to which Sophia replies,

You have already proven yourself very capable, even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even motivations of others, as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person's life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well-practiced in the activity. . .

. . .By what criteria do you base your judgments?. . .

. . .Judging requires that you think yourself superior over the one you judge. . .

To which Mack comes to the conclusion that:

. . .All his judgments had been superficial, based on appearance and actions, things easily interpreted by whatever state of mind or prejudice that supported the need to exalt himself, or to feel safe, or to belong. . .

There is more about judgment in this chapter that is worthy of thought and
consideration, but these are the things that challenged and convicted me. I am often guilty of passing judgment, and when I do it hurts me and hurts others. I need to learn to love and leave the judging to God.

On the subject of love, the character called Jesus says,
"All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It's not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda." p. 181

I am often guilty of withholding my love in an attempt to try to control the people closest to me or to force them to meet my expectations. Focusing on loving them, rather than fixing them, certainly makes a big difference. It does free me to love unconditionally. I recently had a conversation with my 25 year old daughter, Bonnie about these issues. She said that judgmental attitudes and the feeling that she had to live up to a certain standard in order to be accepted had made her want nothing to do with the church now that she was grown and could make her own choices. While she continues to seek a relationship with Christ and to live her life in a way that glorifies Him, she is not actively serving with a body of believers.

While I’m not advocating that we should embrace a “tolerant,” anything goes mindset, I do think that it is very important and often a very difficult task to communicate love and acceptance while teaching truth.

What do you think?


  1. I've been thinking about reading this book all summer. Just from what I've read about it, I don't think I'd give it a big thumbs up b/c of the controversial points...but I can't really discuss it with people unless I've read it first. And the story itself sounds really interesting.
    I do really like the quotes you've shared. I've been really convicted lately about being judgemental in my heart and yet not speaking out against sin when I should. I tsk,tsk in my head and don't say anything - how's that for wrong? But the quote about "it's not your job to change them or convince them" is a point I think a lot of Christians don't fully understand. We are called to share the Gospel, to talk to people, to show them The Way. And yet we aren't called (or able) to be the Holy Spirit in someone's life. I think it's hard for most of us to pour ourselves out and not see any immediate reward.
    I didn't mean to take up your whole comments box, but I just get so excited to have an opinion of something other than diaper brands the correct way to fold a towel:)

  2. While I haven't read the book (I have put it on a list) I am sure that every living soul over the age of ? has judged at some point in their lives, and not in a positive way. We grow up with perceptions of life and people set for us by our parents and/or environment. To overcome these judgements, we must see others through the eyes of our father. See the promise in others, the possibilities in them. Quick judgements cut US off from learning about others, and what their story is. It cuts us off from being able to do or help them as Jesus asks of us.

    Love comes in many forms, and should be applied according to the situation and needs, based on what Jesus has taught. By leaving your judgement behind, you open the opportunity to show love (in some form) through acceptance of others. This does not mean you should be tolerant of wrong doing, or ignorant people. This means it might be an opportunity to witness by your actions to others, and possibly bring them into your Christian fold. It is a fact that you cannot change everyone, but by your actions you plant seeds and open doors.

    I think I ramble a lot, and without reading the book I have possibly missed the point altogether, so please don't judge me. : )