Just like I promise two blog posts ago I finally finished reading Jefferson Bethke’s book, “It’s Not What You Think” and I will tell you this was a good read. I think it took me three and a half weeks to finish, but that was only because I was busy with school work, and I also was reading his last book along with this one which was also great I did a blog post on his last book you can look at it here, but the main reason why it took me so long to finish is because once I read something in this book that was really impactful I would just stop reading and meditate on what I just learned not taking in any more information till the next day or couple of days after my last reading. So I’m going to tell you a couple of things that really impacted me when reading this book. Spoilers down below if you’re already planning on reading this book jump straight to the conclusion section.
- That God wants Intimacy With Us!
- What Voices Do You Listen To?
- The Table Is Not What You Think!
That God Wants Intimacy With Us!
Bethke starts chapter three talking about shame, how we feel shameful when we do things wrong. How in these times when we think about our mistakes, our sins, we try to always lie, we always try to cover them up, and we always try to hide from them. Pretending that it never happened and by us doing this Behtke says in his book that we aren’t allowing ourselves to be intimate, vulnerable and transparent with our Heavenly Father. He explains in his book that it is funny that we learned to run away when we do something shameful from our very first parents Adam and Eve. That God gave Adam and Eve a commandment to not eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. Bethke asks in his book why would God do such a thing, why would God put a Tree of Good and Evil in the garden in the first place if he does not want them to go near it and Bethke answers his own question by saying that God did it as a form of offering to Adam and Eve to be more intimate with him. Bethke explains the tree is named the Tree of Good and Evil if Adam and Eve ate from it what would they know good and evil. God gave them an option to fully depend and trust in him or depend on themselves and eat from the tree. He continues saying if you are familiar with the story obviously you would know that Adam and Eve ate from the tree and they hid. But God does something to us that seems strange he walks through the garden looking for them, God had every right to be angry and to just strike them down and start over with a new Adam and Eve, but he doesn’t he calls for Adam he was calling Adam out of his shame. That’s what God does to us when we do something shameful and we want to hide. God is calling us from it. God is calling us from it because he wants us to be closer and intimate with him, even though we made a mistake God still calls out for us.
What Voices Do You Listen To?
In chapter four of Bethke’s book there’s this section called exactly what the title of this section of this blog is called What Voices Do You Listen To? and when I read this section I read it on the exact day I needed to be reminded of its content. Bethke starts off with this as his first sentence of this section, “The security that we have in Jesus doesn’t do much for us unless we trust it and listen to it.” This sentence is very true indeed! He continues in this section by explaining the story of the Prodigal Son if you don’t know the story you can read it in Luke 15. In the story Bethke mentions you can notice that when the prodigal son returned the father didn’t send him away in disappointment, he ran to him and hugged him and kissed him! Showing to the son that he is loved, that he is known, and that the father sees him for who he is not his mess. When Jesus was telling this parable he was explaining how God is with us how he doesn’t see our mess but he sees who we are for he tells us that we are loved, we are known, we are his children. Behtke explains that we should listen to the voice of God instead of the other voices that try to put us down and separate us from him.
The Table Is Not What You Think!
In the last chapter of the book when I read its title I didn’t know where Bethke was going with this, but when I read it through it truly impacted me. Bethke first starts the chapter off telling a story of a messianic Jew named Ilan who accidentally hit and killed a thirteen year old Palestinian boy. Behtke explains how Ilan is a follower of Jesus Christ and that he wanted to seek reconciliation and forgiveness desperately for the tragedy that he caused to the family. His friends told him to not do it because it was too dangerous even and Israeli policeman told him it was dangerous for Ilan to go all the way to the west bank to meet with the Palestinian family of the boy that he killed. In some Arab traditions the family could kill Ilan as pay back for what he did to their son. Ilan knew the dangers and deeply want to reconcile so he met with an Arab pastor and asked for advise and he told him to make a sulha which is a meal set up that is particularly used for reconciliation. So Ilan set it up for the family there where tension until the father took the first sip from his cup accepting the reconciliation gesture. Tension died down and toward the end of the meal the family said that Ilan would always have a second home with them. The author explains in that meal Ilan and the whole table received love, grace and reconciliation. Almost in every culture other than the westernized ones the author describes the table (sulha) is a place of peace, love and a covenant. How in american culture we basically miss the whole point of having a meal at a table, america makes everything about efficiency of just getting the food in our stomachs. Bethke explains back in Jesus day the table meant family and peace when you ate and sat with someone at the table it meant intimacy and friendship. The day right before Jesus did the most historical thing what did he do? He ate and fellowship with his disciples telling them to do this in remembrance of him. The author continues explaining when Jesus did this he didn’t mean the small crackers and the small juice cup they hand out in church every first Sunday, he meant actual eating and fellowshipping with one another at an actual table. Every time you have a meal with someone it should remind you of what Jesus had did for you. There is way more points that Bethke goes with this topic of the table that if I put everything in this blog post I might as well be writing his book.
My conclusion of this book is that this was a really great book to read. It really opened my eyes to some things and impacted me in many ways. If you enjoyed reading about the ways this book impacted me I recommend you get this book because I only talked about just a couple of chapters in this book. There is way more in this book that was not discussed in this blog that I believe it would be impactful for you!!