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Nov 25

What Matters Most by Leonard Sweet

Posted on Sunday, November 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

“What Matters Most: How We Got the Point but Missed the Person” is a reprint of a 2004 book, entitled “Out of the Question…Into the Mystery.”

That said, this is a powerful book that needed to be re-considered for an audience, myself included, that missed it when it was first released.

“Belief can exist in isolation, but faith requires a relationship.” For without dynamic, engaging deep relationships — relationship with Jesus and then relationship with people — we cannot demonstrate love.

In What Matters Most, Sweet’s expands the relationship theme declaring, “Faith Is a Relationship.” In fact, “Faith in God is a relationship involving all of who you are and all that is around you. Faith is a lived encounter, a relationship of truth with the divine.”

Sweet explores seven areas of relationship: 
Our Relationship With God
Our Relationship With God’s Story
Our Relationship With Other People of Faith
Our Relationship With Those Outside the Faith and With Those Who Are Different
Our Relationship With God’s Creation
Our Relationship with Symbols, Arts, Artifacts, and “Things”
Our Relationship With the Spiritual World

Sweet warns, “We are more in love with our principles of peace, than we are with the Prince of Peace.”

“We don’t follow Jesus because we understand Him or because we know the truth about Him. We follow Jesus because He is the Truth, and He leads us into truth through our relationship with Him.”

Like Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Revolution, Sweet challenges the malaise in the American church.  “One of the problems of the church is its forceful insistence on intellectual adherence to certain beliefs, in the relative absence of a holy passion for the incarnational practice of those same beliefs.”

“Christianity has much less to do with being ‘right’ than it has to do with building right relationships–the strong protecting the weak, the rich serving the poor, the insiders making room for the outcasts”

I wish Sweet would have been more specific about broken relationships; in particular, broken marriages and broken families.

Conclusion:

This rhetorical question captures most of Sweet’s key point, “Is Christianity a proprietary doctrine of the church, or is it a continuation of Jesus’ ministry on earth and an embodiment of his spirituality? Is Christianity a method and strategy, or is it a community with throbbing hearts, bleeding hearts, broken hearts, hearts bound together by and in God?”

Answering his own question, Sweet explains, “To speak the truth about God, you must know God. And to know God you must love God. And to love God you must be in a relationship with God….The primary relationship of life is a relationship with the one true and holy God. Everything else follows.”

I enjoyed this book, and I appreciated the study questions at the end of the book.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their book review bloggers program. 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.”

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