By Dave Burchett
WaterBrook Press, 243 pp, 2002
Have you ever read a book that made a
huge impression on you? That convinced or inspired you to change the way
you live or interact with others? That opened your eyes and made you
realize you've been doing something stupid for a very long time?
This book did all those for me. I don't
write this lightly, because I rarely read a book that does just that.
I found this while browsing through the
non-fiction stacks in my local county library. You'd be amazed what you
can find when you're not really looking for anything. The book's title
caught my eye, since it's a clever play on the standard question of why
bad things happen to good people (that question, by the way, is beyond
the scope of this humble review). So I picked it up, paged through it,
and decided it was worth a try. I wasn't paying for it, so my criteria
for reading a book is low (it's higher if I'm buying a book).
Author Dave Burchett's message can be summed up in one sentence:
Christians need to treat each other better, and they need to treat
He's speaking from personal experience. I
won't give away the situation here, but he and his family were treated
horribly at a church they had attended for years, so they left. And he
started talking to other folks who had also been treated badly by their
fellow Christians, and realized something was very wrong in the church.
Some folks moved to other churches, but others lost their faith. The
church was actually driving people away, and Burchett rightly thinks
Burchett also provides a quick but
effective overview of basic Christian doctrine, including six things he
learned about evangelism by watching the ridiculous events in Florida
following the 2000 presidential election.
But the strength of the book is
Burchett's advice for dealing with non-believers. Too many Christians
have done a horrible job of communicating their message. They come
across as hateful, bigoted, close-minded, intolerant, and angry. So is
it any wonder that so many non-Christians think all Christians are that
way? Or that Christianity is that way?
So he suggests that Christians watch
their language and tone, and treat everyone, believer and non-believer
alike, with love and humility. Don't water down the message, just make
it less strident and more welcoming.
He also advises Christians to pick their
battles more carefully, and here he goes into politics. Yes, Christians
should be involved with the political process, and should stand up for
issues that are important, but politics is not the most effective way to
change peoples' hearts. Quit whining about the secular media, or how
mean skeptics are, or how Christians are victimized - that achieves
nothing. Instead, focus on living the Christian life, which is the best
way to change this world.
That's the message I took from this book.
I realized I was doing much of what he was talking about. I often dealt
with skeptics by ridiculing their beliefs, and when they responded in
kind, I concluded they were anti-Christian bigots. It never occurred to
me that they were thinking the same of me, and I was turning people off
Christianity. So I've since changed my tone, becoming more polite while
in no way watering down the message, and the scornful responses have
practically disappeared. Funny how that works!
So I recommend this book to everyone,
Christian and non-Christian alike. You may not like or agree with some
of what Burchett recommends, but it should get you thinking and
hopefully examining your own conduct.