In The Briarpatch Gospel, Shayne Wheeler exposed the challenges and trials of travelling in the thick briarpatch. Living in a complicated world is anything but an easy task. The briarpatch is consisted of people out of our typical circle of Christian friends. Some people try to avoid the gays, lesbians, and bi sexual orientation, the drunks, the loners, people with tattoos, piercings, ex-criminals, people who practice other religions, or anyone who doesn’t fit in our group of friends. As Christians, we’re called to love one another as Christ would. It’s important to remember that we’re not called to judge others. Who are we to say who Christ loves more and accepts, because we have all have sinned and fallen short at some time or another. Christ is the ultimate judge and he died on the cross for all of humanity sins.
Shayne Wheeler’s story started when he and his wife decided to move to Decatur, Georgia. He had a vision and a calling from God to reach out to a community and build a church. He decided that they needed to be a church that accepted everyone for who they are. Shayne pointed out that the world views Christians as being judgment and condemning rather than accepting and loving like Christ. Non-believers are watching how some professing Christians picket military funerals and loudly and boldly say, “God hates fags”. Reading scripture and we know that nowhere is that saying in the Bible. Shayne Wheeler shared on page 189, “In Romans 1, homosexuality is mentioned alongside such issues as envy, strife, gossip and slander, lack of love and mercy, even disobedience to parents (Romans 1:29-31). It’s important to love them and not say they are going to hell or that God hates them. Shayne Wheeler continued with, “I don’t think the Bible supports same-sex relationships, but that does not mean I think you love Jesus less than I do in my own struggles with things the Bible clearly speaks against-greed, unforgiveness, or even lust. It just means we are all sinners in need of the grace God provides for us in the cross of Jesus. Brokenness is in all of us. We are all in this together. We are family” (Page 195).
One of the chapters covered the topic of the hidden icebergs in our lives. Everyone knows that the dangerous part of the iceberg is beneath the surface. It’s the part that we hide from others that damage our lives. Shayne Wheeler discovered that the two most problem areas people pursue is greed and sex. He stated that, “Yet Americans-whether Christian or no-give away less than 2 percent of their income to charitable organizations or to the poor” (Page 68). Many times we let our sole identity become how much stuff we have and how much is in the bank account. Sex is more of an intimacy longing and we want to be close to someone else but isn’t just about sex. It’s a sense of wanting to be connected and we want to be able to be ourselves with someone else. Many people turn to pornography for a temporary relief and they believe it will make you feel complete. But it never satisfies us for very long. Walking with Jesus through this life and beyond means being honest with yourself and others about your weaknesses, no matter how problematic and uncomfortable you may be.
I would recommend this magnificent book to anyone who is looking to be shaken up and wants to be pulled out of your comfort zone. This book is for people who are seeking a resource on dealing with the critical needs in the world we’re living in today. If you’re aren’t willing to overcome your own judgment and pride and befriend gays, bi, and lesbians, the drunks, people struggling with addictions, drugs, ex-criminals, and anyone who doesn’t seem like you, then this book might not be for you. It’s written for the radical people who are desperately trying to become like Christ. Christians, it’s time to reach out and show the love of Christ to all people especially people who we wouldn’t choose to be our friend. Shayne Wheeler had excellence points presented in the book that I know will offend most people. But loving others is a risk that we must take in order to become like Christ! This book will transform your life if you let it!
Tyndale House Publishers/Tyndale Momentum has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.
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