Hope Amidst the After Shocks: A Book Review
Yet he does so without every being preachy or condemning. In fact, he keeps his hardest critique for himself—not out of false modesty or over-pietistic self-ﬂagellation, but rather out of a rare and genuine honesty. And it is because of this honesty that he so poignantly asks the hard questions of himself, of us, and even of God. Kent admits: "Iʼve been writing this book because my faith might die. I donʼt want it to. But I donʼt want a sentimental faith." And this is what the book invites us into—not a hopeless wallowing in doubt and self-loathing, but a place where faith and obedience meet honesty and uncertainty.
Considering all of this, Kent reflects, "Faith that can't withstand getting rocked by all of this ought to crumble like those concrete buildings. But faith that isn't shaken regularly by life isn't trustworthy either. Maybe this crisis of faith, this search for faith is something like yours."
Reading this book presents a choice: the choice to step into the crucible in which our faith is truly tested. It would be far too easy for us to dismiss the author of this book as faithlessly pessimistic or, far worse, walk away with determination to be more thankful for what we have. Instead, this book is an invitation to see the cross of Christ for what it really is—both in respect to the cost it exacts for our own sin and to the daily taking it up that God requires of us—and to respond accordingly.
Despite the hard reality and difficult questions this book confronts us with, it is also a book that is deeply rooted in hope. This was the inexplicable, humbling, and imperfect reality I experienced while I was in Haiti: a people who, in the face of unbelievable suffering, choosing to love God and each other in beautiful ways. For, as Kent reminds us, ". . . where there is love in a moment of need, Jesus is there in the shared space between them. Because love is there."
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Jamie Arpin-Ricci, CJ, is a writer, pastor, and missional church planter living in the inner city of Winnipeg, Canada with his Aussie wife, Kim, and soon-to-be-adopted Ethiopian son, Micah. He is the author of the upcoming book, The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom (IVPress, Nov. 2011). He blogs regularly at "A Living Alternative" (www.missional.ca).