A few friends have recently asked for book recommendations for people in their life who are open to knowing God on a deeper level, but have issues with either the church as an organization, or have had a bad experiences with people who call themselves Christians.
First, I just like to say, if you fall into this camp: I am sorry. Christians and churches make mistakes; and I include myself in that. Christians have certainly given many people a reason to avoid anything related to God.
That being said, I think sometimes God is misunderstood because of bad representation. If you are a person who is open to Christ but skeptical, here are a few books I recommend:
The Prodigal God: I read this book with my bible study last year and looked at God in a completely new way because of it. The book is more academic than some of my other options (below) but will challenge Christians and non-Christians alike with an introduction to the true meaning of grace. To ponder: “Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.”
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality : Donald Miller has a way with stories, and his story is that of a skeptic. You’ll find his casual writing refreshing because it’s not full of the cliches found in so many Christian books. This book is a funny, emotional faith memoir lacking the cliches many other religious books fall into. One of my favorite quotes: “Self-discipline will never make us feel righteous or clean; accepting God’s love will.” For a whole host of other great quotes, click here.
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith: If you haven’t read Anne Lamott, you’re missing out. She’s funny and honest about her journey to Christianity, so much so that at times she even comes across as irreverent. And yet, while Anne and is certainly upfront in how she wrestles through her faith, I think many people feel less alone in their own questioning after reading her books. It’s as if she gives reader permission to say, “Phew! There’s not a perfect mold I have to fit in order to be a Christian.” She writes, “Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You’re done. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have lunch with the person. If you keep hitting back, you stay trapped in the nightmare…”
God Is Closer Than You Think: This Can Be the Greatest Moment of Your Life Because This Moment Is the Place Where You Can Meet God : Publisher’s Weekly says “…those looking for an approachable, quick read on a difficult subject will appreciate this guide, which alludes to the mysteries of God’s intimacy with Christians, but doesn’t get bogged down in too many details.” This book is written in a friendly, easy-to-understand style that makes the reader feel like you’re having coffee with the author. For those people who think God can only be found while reading scripture or visiting a Catholic church, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all the ways God really is closer than you think.
And…if you’re really brave…pick up a study Bible. It might seem scary, but even my young, searching, junior high heart found God in those pages. He can meet you where you’re at.
What are some other books you’d add to this list?
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