Holy Habits By Andrew Roberts
What a great book! When I first suggested that we read it for Book Club, one of the members thought it looked somewhat ‘heavy-going’. On the contrary, when we met to discuss it, we all felt it was an easy read and had much to say to us about following Jesus. So much so that several people said they were going to re-read it, while I suggested that it would make an excellent project for housegroup study. With short chapters, each followed by questions categorised as Personal, Local and Global, it is both challenging and nourishing.
FOOTSTEPS IN THE SAND
Andrew Roberts reminds us that being a disciple is about following Jesus, not a philosophy. It’s not simply about following, however, but also about letting go! And that, we agreed, is not always easy. We’re called to follow spiritually, imaginatively and prayerfully. Thus we may find that the habits, attitudes and opinions we hold conflict with those of the one we seek to follow, in which case, they may need to be jettisoned.
The good news is that we are not alone in our endeavours, since Jesus chose us with the aim of helping us to become like him. His commission requires that we show commitment, mission, service and ministry, and yes, there is a cost, physically and spiritually, but as we grow in understanding, we come to realise that there is also hope. As Andrew says, it is no more naïve to believe in a transformed world than it would, once, have been to imagine a man on the moon or the world wide web. Using Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jane Hawkings and those who are dying for their beliefs in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere as examples, he demonstrates the joy and thankfulness that may be ours, despite the suffering.
We then embarked on the holy habits themselves. First, the importance of community, and a statement declaring that it’s not what we DO that matters, but who we ARE. Another point of discussion, was that we are not a church WITH small groups, but a church OF small groups. And yet another of the habits – which raised a few laughs among us – was the importance of food. The fact that mealtimes were so often the environment in which Jesus made momentous statements should (and does) inspire us to realise the importance of eating together in our ministry.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
When it came to the habit of fellowship, we learned that Britain, sadly, has been voted the loneliest country, and were urged not to centre upon our own community, but to reach out to others. This, in turn, means that we should be as open to receiving hospitality as to give it. Likewise, our motive in showing hospitality should never be coercive or manipulative. Gladness and generosity were discussed, and the fact that forgiveness equates to at-one-ment! Worship, too, is more than simply meeting together; we may worship our creator everytime we see a glorious sunset. Nor should it be about styles, cultures, ages or resources.
GETTING HEAVEN INTO PEOPLE
One of the key phrases we all embraced in book club, came from the chapter on making disciples. The aim, here, Andrew Roberts urged us, should be on getting heaven into people, rather than people into heaven. To this end, I heartily recommend this book, whether for personal study or as part of a group.
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