Warning: May Cause You to Rethink Your Life
Review of God’s Relentless Love, by Edwin Chase
A Review by J. Steve Miller
Having received this book for review from the publisher, I must admit that I was underwhelmed by the topic. I mean, what more could possibly be written on the love of God that theologians and popular writers hadn’t already exhausted? With my formal background in theology and practical background in ministry, I certainly didn’t expect the author to reveal anything I didn’t know; much less make me rethink some of my own attitudes and motivations. I was wrong on both counts.
Author Edwin Chase roots his insights in the Scriptures, illustrating them with fascinating stories from his own life, psychological studies, modern film, and his experiences in counseling. Especially thought provoking to me were the observations of a psychiatrist who worked with ministers and missionaries in the mid 1900’s. These good-hearted folks were burning out in droves. His diagnosis was that they were trying to merit a relationship with God with ministry results.
Then Chase proceeded to move from writing to meddling when he challenged me to imagine what God thinks of me. People tend to say, “He wishes I spent more time doing…” or “He’s disappointed with my performance as….” Chase suggests that typical responses indicate that we’ve failed to grasp the unconditional love of God. Properly understood, sincere believers should respond with something like, “God loves me, likes me, and enjoys my company.”
The more I thought about it, the more I saw myself as a Pharisee, not so much in my judgment of others, but in my judgment of myself. I’m an over achiever. I feel good about myself when I accomplish things. That’s not necessarily bad, but when I asked myself, “How do I see God looking at me,” I had to respond, “He’s disappointed that I don’t do more of this or that.” This type of attitude causes me to relate to God more as my stern boss than as my passion. And it makes me ripe for burnout during times when my output isn’t impressive.
If we agree with Jesus’ teaching that the greatest commandment consists of loving God and loving people, then it’s critical that we regularly reflect on our views of God and our resulting attitudes toward God. Chase’s book caused me to rethink some attitudes that had slowly, subtly weakened my relationship with God.
If the main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing, give this book a read. It’s brief, clearly written, easy to read. But the implications are potentially life-changing.