On Mission with Jesus, Seeing through His Eyes

Unshockable Love by John Burke:  A Book Review

John Burke is a pastor with the heart of an evangelist.  He has endeavored to pattern his ministry after Jesus’ three-year stint on this planet.  Jesus saw the masterpiece, the exquisite work of art, within everyone He encountered.  Their sin was foreign matter — mud — obscuring the value of their true identity, clearly visible to God the Son.  With this as the bedrock under Burke’s ministry at Gateway Church, he presents the results in this, his third book, seasoned liberally with real-life stories.

Relevant works of art and photographs at the beginning of each chapter in Part 1 anchor the illustrations they support.  Listening, asking before telling, remembering that we are in the age of mercy:  none of this is new, but when was the last time I asked anyone a truly probing question?

What do you hope for in life?

What are your heart’s greatest desires?

What is your spiritual background?

Because believers do not know the answers to these questions, we do not know the hearts of the people God brings into our lives, and much of our missional activity is more pharisaical than Christ-like.

An appendix defining terms used in sharing the Gospel and helpful tables allowing Scripture to speak out on leadership and the predestination/free will controversy support Part 2, which is, essentially,  a manual  for building disciples.  Compassion for the unbeliever’s need of Christ seeps through the cracks of every page without diluting the practical, boots-on-the-ground battle plan.  Burke calls the ministry team a Network and diagrams The Wave of Impact that a Network can have through meaningful relationships.

What makes Unshockable Love more than a commercial message for Gateway Church or just another manual on evangelism is the same quality that makes it impossible to read this book without examining your own heart.  The truth of Scripture is presented as if Burke is looking at it for the first time, and writing off the top of his discoveries.  On Galatians 5:1:

People change when they willingly follow God’s Spirit in a moment-by-moment way.  God doesn’t run over your free will; his Spirit works with your willingness.  If this is how people change . . . then we need to be people who help others to willingly trust and follow the Spirit of God.  That’s our only job, not fixing or changing people, but encouraging them to see why God is good and that they can trust his Spirit to produce great things in them.

Some books on evangelism and outreach seem to have been written as documentaries, preserving under glass a method that worked somewhere at some time.  Unshockable Love seems to have been written because there was a truth, bubbling in the core of a pastor’s heart, that had transformed his ministry and his life.  If the church of Jesus Christ will tap into Christ’s heart of love and demonstrate the attitude of Jesus and the actions of Jesus, we will impact the world.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for over 25 years, and their four children are growing up at an alarming rate. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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