Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: When Bad Christians Happen to Good People

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett

Ok, so we all know the famous quote from Bara Dada, "Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians -- you are not like him."  But while voices from those on the outside looking in can easily be dismissed, when the cry comes from the inside, we need to stop and listen.

Reading Burchett’s book can be compared to riding a roller coaster.  While for the most part the ride is enjoyable – and Burchett is a master entertainer and comedian – there are also many nail biting, terror-filled (scream: “oh no, that’s me!”), “ouch” moments.  Yes, the book is filled with horror stories of emotional and spiritual in-house butchery (one in particular is a very personal story about the author’s daughter, Katie), but it also has golden-glow-sunrise, life-changing, joy-filled stories of Christians whose reflection of the amazing grace and love they received served as the healing balm of Gilead.  The title seems to indicate that the book is filled with finger pointing, soap-opera, “it’s all your fault!” stories, but it is actually more like a reality check (his analogy of going to the dentist fits well).  Of all the communities of the world, evangelical Christians are often the most dishonest people, simply because being real may result in their being hurt by other equally dishonest people.  (Pastors especially are privileged to provide their flock with so much to talk about…“bless his heart”.)  Burchett shines the spotlight on us all and reveals that we are all broken, hurting people desperately needing other broken, hurting people to understand our pain and help us deal with the ups and downs of life in a fallen, dysfunctional world…ahem…and Church.

To me, parts II and III are the most important sections of the book.  While Christians may be licking their wounds received from other Christians (some of whom, sadly, never recover enough to risk returning for a possible second dose), non-Christians turn their heads away in disgust and walk away justifying their refusal to follow Christ.  Bara Dada is a case in point.  So, true: Jesus weeps…and still does…but Burchett then moves on to deal with non-sugar-coated Gospel living in a badly scripted, role playing world.  There are some amazingly jaw-dropping steep drops in this section as well, but far from being a list of rules slapped on thickly like rancid butter on too little bread, Burchett points us in the right direction.  In my humble opinion, he hits a home-run on page 176 where he says this:

“It is easier to be critical than truly helpful.  In the gospel of John, Jesus talked about how we must be in relationship with Him before we can be fruitful in our endeavors.  Simply stated, when you are in a vital relationship with Christ, your thoughts and actions will reflect that connection.” 

Jesus lived a very real and thus very counter-(religious)-cultural life.  Burchett invites us to walk with Him. 

And yes, there is a bonus.  An eight-session study guide to change knowledge gained to attitude changed to conduct altered.
"I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
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