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- Published on Amazon.com
A little over a year ago I posted a multi-part review of Leonard Sweet's book "So Beautiful." A few weeks ago I started his latest work, "NUDGE." I will be providing a full (probably another multi-part) review of this book in the coming days/weeks. Anyway, the point of my mentioning So Beautiful in relationship with NUDGE is my first impression following the preface and opening comments of the first chapter. While I thought So Beautiful was the culmination of much of the thinking and study from Len Sweet, it appears at first glance that NUDGE is an extension of the MRI (missional, relational, incarnational) model in practice. I am excited with what I'm reading; very excited. I feel the welling up in my soul exclaiming; "yes, yes, YES!" Let me share a teaser quote from NUDGE and show you what I mean... Sweet writes:
I believe the lifeblood of evangelism is not propositions, but prepositions. For God to do something through us, God must be doing something in us. If we are not always evangelizing ourselves, we have no business evangelizing others. In fact, it is usually as God's grace courses through us to someone else that we become aware of God's love in and for us. Evangelism is an invitation for broken people together to meet the Christ who loves broken people. We all are damaged but loved, crushed but cherished, with a divine embrace. When love is the motivation for evangelism, nudging is love in action. And the cracks in our broken vases are where Jesus leaks out first. ~~Leonard Sweet; NUDGE p.28
I love this. I want to live in this constant and continual state of awareness of God's Presence working in me and working through me...working in others and through others... to perfect and transform the brokenness of a creation He desperately desires to reconcile and restore. It is a divine mystery that is unfolding right in front of us and I don't want to miss a nanosecond of it. Apparently, it takes a "nudge" every now and then to move us to action.
This is another one of those books for me. "Those books" are books that I cannot read breezily through. This is (or means) good, in the highest order. The author, Leonard Sweet, proclaims the premise of Nudge is about evangelism ...he's the author; I can't disagree with his premise. I think at a higher level, the book is about so much more than evangelization. I think it is about "rethinking" our entire perspective about how we recognize our relationship (heart, soul, mind, strength, and all our senses as well...according to Len Sweet) with the Living God. Naturally, when we reexamine and respond differently to this Living God according to previously unrecognized "signs" our methodology for evangelism is subject to (and likely to) change. So, yeah...while the book is about rethinking evangelism, I believe it has the potential to awaken us all to levels previously unrecognized.
If you're not familiar with Len Sweet's writing style, it may take some getting used to. Personally, I happen to love his writing style. He employs extensive use of metaphor and includes hundreds of quotes to reemphasize and support his metaphors, parables, and word pictures. I really enjoy this manner of writing and speaking, it helps me to understand the concept; true enough, but even more importantly...it helps me to take ownership of the teaching allowing it to really shape me for the better. This is not to say that I necessarily agree or disagree with every concept, but coming to a fuller understanding of the thought is important to being able to understand why I might agree or disagree. The conversation is important and when the reader does not have the luxury of physical dialogue with the author, many word pictures and metaphor help the conversation to develop in the mind of the reader sans author.
The first part of the book is about the multitude of "signs" where God is working. Sweet calls this semiotics; the art and science of paying attention. These, he writes, are God's "nudges" showing us and calling our attention to the work that he has been and is doing in the redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of man. Extremely thought-provoking, intriguing, and inspiring stuff he writes in this portion of the book.
The second part of the book goes into sensory details of the tools we have to practice semiotic awareness of God's redemptive work. These sensory tools are the receptor-transmitters for all evangelistic nudges being received in us and broadcast from us. Again, I found this incredibly inspiring. The chapter on hearing, Pause: Use Your Ears, still has me reeling. Sweet, the maestro of metaphor, goes on to write in bountiful detail the wonders of God's presence made anew to all our senses in Presence: Taste, Picture: Eyes, Ponder: Touch, and Promise: Nose. So impressed was (am) I with these word pictures, I do not think a better job could have been presented in illustrating the ideas. The privilege to me is that each metaphor provides new thoughts and reflection and this is why I cannot "breeze" through this sweet writing style.
I was really taken with the last book release, So Divine, by Leonard Sweet. I thought it would be near impossible to improve on the work done in that piece. Nudge proves itself to be a most worthy companion to So Divine. In my opinion, they should be must reading for every Christian. I think each would provide fantastic discussion points for small groups.
My grade: 5-stars. I'll be reading it and pondering it for a long time.