Book Recommendation from a Pastor
“A Gentle Answer: Our “Secret Weapon” in An Age of Us Against Them.” by Scott Sauls
Recommendation by Pastor Eric Cai
Do you have a ‘them’ in your life? ‘Them’, as in those with whom you have difficulty loving, those whose views you find difficulty tolerating, those whom you don’t have as much empathy for, but rather frustration, annoyance, and apathy. As we live in a continually fractured and divisive society, it has become increasingly apparent, now more than ever, that we live in an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ world. And the question that confronts every follower of Jesus Christ in our polarized age is, “What does the character of Jesus and his followers have to offer to an increasingly angry and divisive world?”
Pastor Scott Sauls provides practical answers to this question in his very helpful book, “A Gentle Answer: Our “Secret Weapon” in An Age of Us Against Them.” What he uncovers in the book is the fact that reality is a lot more complicated than merely demonizing “the bad guy” and lionizing “the good guy”. Because, in a way reminiscent of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Pastor Scott reminds me that the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.
What is characteristic of Pastor Scott’s writing is his delicate and sensitive balance of speaking the truth in love. This is especially reflected in his new work as he calls on Christians to the hard work of gentleness in a time of hostility and suspicion, starting from the most necessary source—Jesus’ own life and gentleness. Divided into two parts, Pastor Scott carefully crafts first the story of how Jesus personally and gently changes us. And as we change, we become gentle, becoming like Jesus himself. Throughout the book, there is a consistent pattern of Pastor Scott comforting us with the indicatives (who we are in Jesus Christ) before the imperatives (what we are called to do in Jesus Christ).
At times, this book will be confrontive and challenging. It has challenged me to reconsider how I view and treat people with whom I disagree and to repent of my dismissiveness and cavalier attitude. But the more it revealed my lack of gentleness, the more it revealed my need for the gentleness and sufficiency of Jesus. I suspect that this was precisely Pastor Scott’s intention in his book. To whet your appetite for this helpful resource, consider the following quotes:
- “Counterfeits of Christianity have earned for Christianity itself a black eye in today’s cultural climate. Perceived by many as hypocritical, excessively partisan, and fixated on attacking the specks in others’ eyes while ignoring the planks in our own, it’s no wonder that Christians, especially younger ones, have become disenchanted with the idea of sharing their faith,” (pp. 32-33)
- To gain strength and courage to offer a gentle answer, we must first be flooded by the reality that we’ve already received one,” (p. 68)
- “This ‘Is it I?’ response to the Lord, as opposed to an ‘It is he!’ response, is a key indicator of a healthy, self-aware, non-presumptuous, gentle posture of faith. Sorrow mixed with introspection is, even for the most faithful disciples among us, the most appropriate response when the subject of evil and betrayal is raised…The more we realize these truths, the less accusatory we will become toward others, and the gentler we will become as well” (p. 164).
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