I have been a fan of Jennie Allen for several years now. She is the founder of IF:gathering. My friend Cari and I hosted IF:gathering two years ago, attended another last year and are hosting it again this year. It is such a vital time of encouragement and learning for me.
Jennie's new book, "Nothing to Prove," has that same type of encouragement and learning. The subtitle is "why we can stop trying so hard." Don't you feel like you've been trying so hard? Striving for success or a goal of some kind for so long. I have. No, don't misquote me here saying that I don't think goals are worthwhile. I do very well when I have a goal to strive for. However, when that striving becomes overwhelming and exhausting, something is wrong.
Even in the Christian world, we are all striving. Usually, we are striving for good things: doing good works for God, mission work, discipling, evangelizing. These are good things but they can make us exhausted. In that striving and exhaustion we can forget that we have nothing to prove. We have grace through the blood of Christ Jesus.
"Nothing to Prove" is Jennie's story to stopping the striving and to learn to rest in the grace of her Lord. Many times we start work for God to give Him glory and somewhere in that we twisted to strive to "build platforms for applause rather than to display God." We forget that we are supposed to be filled by the living water of Christ in order that it can "come pouring out of you into a thirsty world."
I love the interactive qualities of Jennie Allen's books. They're always places to answer questions and think through what she has been sharing and write your prayers. I feel like more books need to be like that because I write in them whether they have the room or not. I very much appreciate the suggestions in her book, the freedom to use the information in ways that work in our lives and our walks with God.
One thing that really struck me while reading this book was when she spoke about the miracle at Cana. This is when Jesus was that a wedding with his mother and disciples and they ran out of wine. In their culture, this was awful! But I never noticed that it was wine. His first miracle was wine! Stay with me here...
"Near the end of Jesus is life, at the final supper with his disciples he poured wine and said of it, "this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. When you drink of it, remember me. Every time you drink or eat, remember that my body was broken for you and my blood spilled for you, all to fulfill a purpose, to confirm a new covenant between God and you." The wine that symbolized "The greatest news on earth, was foreshadowed at the beginning of Jesus's ministry! "The fact that, at the wedding in Cana, Jesus had the servants fill the huge ceremonial cleansing jars with water is like the ultimate goal of his life and death and resurrection: he would replace the in adequate religious rituals with the flowing promise of nearness to God." And that's it!
People today are so tired of religion and for good reason. Religion will fail you. It is run by humans who are prone to sin. I just listened to a whole Andy Stanley podcast on atheism and the "non" generation (people who are non-affiliated).
But Jesus with his love and goodness replaces are human striving with his godly grace.
Isn't that amazing news?
We have the opportunity to serve the God who loves us simply because he loves us. He doesn't need us and we cannot do enough good works to deserve his love or praise. But he loves us and we have the opportunity to glorify him in all that we say, think, and do.
Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. I would have bought it anyway! All opinions are my own even if they are different from others' opinions.