The authors pitch this book in answer to a simple question – we know God loves us, but does he really like us? This is less an allusion to rom-coms, but rather an unpacking of that great vision of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, that man exists ‘to know God and to enjoy him forever’. My inclusion of rom-coms and catechisms in the same breath is deliberate – for this is a book that doesn’t take itself to seriously, but takes God and his word beautifully seriously.
This nicely produced book – with a consistent dandelion theme that blows through the whole book design-wise – is divided into four parts. The authors engage with questions of meaning and purpose, ones that I’ve both asked and heard in my relatively short life:
- Where is Home?
- Do I belong Here?
- Does My Work Matter?
- Is God Done With Me?
- Is God Disgusted With Me?
- Will I Ever Find Peace?
This is just a sample, but hopefully gives you a flavour of the book. Overall, it reads as a beautiful exploration of the Big Story of the Bible, though a lens of God’s Kingdom. Given the author’s co-pastoring of a Vineyard church, this is hardly surprising, but what is notable is that Does God Really Like Me? is refreshingly absent of charismatic jargon, and instead should be readable for anyone. And this is perhaps the key to the success of this book. I think the Holsclaws have done a great job of writing a book that goes deep enough to refresh those of us who already follow Jesus, whilst also being simple and explicable enough (including summaries, images and so on) to explain to new disciples or those considering faith some of the core beauty of our story.
That ‘relevance’, though, should not be taken as a negative. Indeed, for one of the great issues of our day, identity, the Holsclaws couldn’t be clearer on the Bible’s message. And they write not from an ivory tower, but with a nod to lived experience and the reality of life. Their own story, warts and all, is a part of this book, but woven in in such a way that it never gets in the way. Anyway, of the identity of Christians, they write this: “God delights in you. Because of Jesus, we are beloved children of the Father, ambassadors of the good and loving King. This identity is bestowed upon us not because of what we do, what we have, or what people think of us, but because of who God is and who God is making us to be in Jesus.” Amen!
I would heartily recommend this book. If you are a somewhat jaded and disillusioned, or just plain worn-out, follower of Jesus, then this book is for you. If you are new to this whole thing, or discipling those who are, this book is for you. And if you wouldn’t call yourself a Christian, but find the idea of a relationship with God terrifying or incomprehensible, then this is a book by fairly ordinary people about an extraordinary story that you are invited to be a part of.