ABOUT THE BOOK:
None of us is lovable all of the time-and no one can make us feel worse than those closest to us. So we keep others at arm’s length to protect ourselves rather than reaching out for relationship. But think of who Jesus invited into his life and ministry. They weren’t always lovable. Yet he modeled perfect love for us and showed how the mark of a spiritually mature believer is engaging with others in meaningful relationships. This in-depth, biblical look at the critical importance of “doing life” in close fellowship with other believers will draw you closer to your spiritual family-and to Jesus-than ever before.
Jim Putman’s newest book does a great job of unpacking an essential element of life that is missing for far too many today. RELATIONSHIPS! Not the kind we make on social media but the kind where a group of people truly knows you and who you are.
As a small groups pastor, I am passionate about people connecting in healthy relationships with others who will challenge them to grow in Christlikeness. God is relational and designed us to grow best through relationships with Him and others. But relationships can be messy, challenging and so often times frustrating. Especially relationships with people who are different than we are; yet often times these are the relationships we need most! However, every since sin entered the world we have a tendency to hide. To hide from God and from each other and to point to other people as the problem and not ourselves. It can be challenging to stay committed in a small group with others when our tendency is to hide and not value others. Yet it is one of the things we need the most in growing in Christ-likeness. Putman does well to unpack all the challenges of being in community in a way that expands and builds upon the works of others. Most books on community start with a few pages or a chapter that reinforces the importance of community but then transitions to form and function; whereas Putman stays focused on unpacking this value throughout the entirety of his work. If you are looking for a book that will expand your understanding of community and transforming power of it this is a good one!
Without committed, intentional, loving relationships with other Christians, we are missing an essential ingredient of the faith.It’s easy to love people when they are kind and gracious to us; even the pagans do that. But it’s much more difficult to love people when they aren’t being kind or considerate or gracious.
I enjoyed Putman’s new book for several reasons. He does well to challenge views of people who tend to be disconnected and stresses the importance of relationships throughout the book from many different angles and by addressing several challenges to doing so. He does well to define spiritual growth through relationships with statements such as:
“We are all called to grow up in the faith, and that means we become more relational, because God’s Spirit lives inside of us.”
All of the fruit of the Holy Spirit are others-related.
Our call is to “do life” with others, and as we journey the road together, we not only learn to love others, but we allow them to really know and love us too.
Putman also does well in challenging even Christian leaders of the need and importance of community and relationships with others. He addresses head on challenging subjects such as rebelling against church authority; the need for accountability in relationships; church-hopping for “deeper teaching” and many other such subjects to help the reader form an understanding of the church as more than a place that they attend but a place where they can be real and form real relationships with others as a family, while using their gifts alongside of others where everyone is playing their part and contributing. So often Christian leadership and life is about a solo individual. Everything from leadership to using your gifts can become more about you than the people around you which is never the way God intended it to be. Here are a few quotes from Putnam’s book to drive these points home:
Spiritual maturity levels are revealed in the way we respond when our authority asks us to do something we do not understand or like.
So many believers think the church’s obligation is to be there for them— a one-way street.
We don’t jump around from church to church, shopping for the best “experience.” We stick with our family. Because that’s what family does.
No matter what role you are in, the solution starts with the affirmation that God’s church is supposed to be a team and you and everyone else are supposed to play your parts.
Christians have plenty of Christ-honoring work to do, for sure. But unless we see our work and ministries as something we must do together, we’re on a fast track to burnout, misery, depression, and failure.
This is a book that I would highly recommend to others in further understanding the importance and need for healthy relationships and being in community with others in a way that shows the love of Jesus and allows you to be formed more into His image.
If I could boil all the thoughts in this book down to one idea, it would be this: If we are ever going to grow up in our faith, then we will need spiritual relationships to help us do so. At the same time, our relationships reveal our level of spiritual maturity. A mature person in Christ has deep relationships that help him or her remain mature and even grow further.
NOTE: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.