My favorite people walk outside the box. Sweet dances. Out of the Question…Into the Mystery encouraged me to think, to dig deeper into a guilt-free “GodLife” relationship with the Creator of the universe. "God sent forth his Son," the Bible says. "Unto us a son is given." It does not say: “Unto us a law is laid down."
Immediately Sweet grabs our attention by instructing us to “tattoo” our Bibles with life applications, thoughts, and memories that apply. Read the Bible for its stories, the author recommends, so that you can think about them in the quiet hours of the night.
Sweet wrote A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Café about a decade ago. An intriguing read, I passed that book to a friend and quoted it in my own book, What To Do When You Don't Want To Go To Church (AMG, 2004). I couldn't wait to read his latest title, and I wasn't disappointed. Out of the Question is a title to read, mark up, quote, and savor.
The story of Abraham's sacrifice of his son, Isaac, has always troubled me. Sweet tackled that passage head on and I'll never look at it the same again. "The mysteries of God's kingdom are not in some pot of gold that brings you self-fulfillment but a relationship with Jesus that costs you everything."
Out of the Question pivots on relationship. "Identity is found not in things themselves, but in relationships," Sweet wrote. "God didn't send Jesus to deliver a proposition. God sent Jesus to deliver a proposal: ‘Will you love me? Will you let me love you?’ In fact, Jesus not only got on his knees to deliver this proposal, Jesus was nailed to a cross to deliver God's proposal."
Leonard Sweet expands my horizons, introducing me to the thoughts of thinkers beyond the popular circles with quotes from Austin Farrer, C.K. Barrett, Umberto Eco, L. Robert Keck, Gotthold Lessing, Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast, and how about this gem from Vesta M. Kelly who said, "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together."
Out of the Mystery asks "Is Christ a noun or a verb in your life?"
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Quan Yin. "Follow the feminine."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Krishna. "Follow the Lotus and chant the Gita."
"Want to learn how to live?" ask New Agers. "Follow your bliss."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Buddha. "Follow mindfulness."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Prophet Muhammad. "Pray five times a day and follow the Koran."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Moses. "Follow the Torah."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Chief Seattle. "Follow nature."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Aristotle. "Follow my teachings."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Confucius. "Follow my koans."
"Want to learn how to live?" asks Jesus. "Follow me."
Now that's classic Leonard Sweet. – PeggySue Wells, Christian Book Previews.com
How did we get the point, but miss the Person?
Christianity wasn’t founded on a proposition. God sent Jesus to deliver a proposal: “Will you love me? Will you let me love you?”
In fact, Jesus not only got on his knees to deliver this proposal. Jesus was nailed to a cross to deliver God’s proposal. Because of Jesus, we can reach for God himself, not simply for more precise statements about God. Propositions inform us, but God’s proposal of love in Jesus transforms us. God doesn’t answer every question, God invites us into a mystery. God’s proposal of love is truly Out of the Question…Into the Mystery.
“Faith is not simply a decision that is made or a commitment that is promised… Rather, faith is a new life that we practice. And that life is practiced in the context of relationship.” –Leonard Sweet
God made us for relationship. For up-close engagement. For the give-and-take that unfolds when two beings interact on a deeper level.
God wants to be known, not just known about. Jesus invites you to follow him, not simply study him. God reaches out to you, tirelessly pursuing you–not because God is fact or doctrine or proposition, but because God is Love.
And when you discover the authentic life of trusting God and living in love–the GodLife relationship, as Leonard Sweet calls it–your priorities will shift from trying to nail down just the right doctrine to following the living Jesus every moment of every day.
When you follow Jesus, you will learn how to love your enemies, care for the earth, relate to one another, and understand the invisible spiritual realm. In following Jesus, you will appreciate the bigger picture of God’s truth and you’ll be able to witness to your faith more powerfully. The daily practice of faith–versus the settledness of mere belief–will open your life to unimagined possibilities.
God’s chief desire is to enjoy an honest, open-access relationship with you. In this fresh and provocative book, you will be introduced to the mystery and adventure of this GodLife relationship.