I have just finished reading the book "The Insanity of God". Many of you have already seen the movie (I have not yet seen that, since I just now got the capability of playing DVDs...lol), but I wanted to write a short review. There will be no spoilers in this review, so read on!
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
Let me put it to you this way: I read John Piper's 192 page "Don't Waste Your Life" in about 6 weeks. I read "The Insanity of God", which was 323 pages in just over 24 hours (If you took the 8 hours I slept out, I read it in 19 hours). I simply could not put it down. This book is about the persecuted church. I EXPECTED a sales pitch. I expected the book to end with--"Support the persecuted church by donating to such and such organization", but that never happened. Nik Ripken simply tells it like it is and leaves the Holy Spirit to make the conclusions in your heart. I was thankful for that, because the open-ended conclusion of the book really allowed me to think. I laughed, I prayed, I wept (as you will here later), and I walked away with more understanding of persecution, more appreciation for the glory of God, and more understanding about where I was in my walk with the Lord than before.
The only reason it didn't get 100/100 was because Nik Ripken isn't Jesus. The bible gets 100/100. This one is pretty close lol. I had some things I didn't quite agree with, but absolutely nothing even worth discussing. Mostly things like "Why didn't you..." or "I would have...differently". No glaring theological errors for sure.
I don't cry hardly ever. I might tear up and a couple roll down my face if something is really, really gripping but that is exceptionally rare. (That's not a pride thing. If I start crying, I never can hold it in. So I am not being macho). That being said, I wept reading this--sobbing out loud. That's only happened to me one other time in my life. But it didn't happen once while reading this. It happened 3 times. I just had to stop reading and bawl. (Interesting enough, the last time I started to weep, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to stop having a pity party and rejoice in what God was doing through these brothers and sisters). The testimonies of these brothers and sisters was incredible. The things they went through, the glory of God that they saw, the explanation of their conversions. It was all amazing. And it smacked me in the face regarding our pitiful version of Christianity here in the USA and in my own life (that was the pity party).
Another very positive thing that I read was that it showed the REAL persecuted church--not the theoretical one that we all know is out there--but the real, true blue, persecuted believers. It's one thing to hear about persecution, it is another thing to hear stories about persecuted individuals, but it is a completely different animal to hear it straight from those brothers and sisters. Wow! Definitely life-changing.
The raw honestly in the first half of the book regarding the mission to Somaliland was incredible. Sympathetically, I was frustrated for Nik during the first half of the book. I can't imagine the sacrifices that were discussed. The hurt, the pain, the despair so many were feeling at that time. I wanted so badly for that big miracle to show up and everything become ok. But that didn't happen, and I left the first half of the book as distraught about the circumstances as Nik was. BUT, the 2nd half was glorious, answered loads of questions, leaving all the right questions open for the Holy Spirit to deal with me on.
This book is not theological per se (it of course operates under good theology), but it does pose a challenge to our current mode of thinking in the American Culture. We are simply not ready for persecution. We don't really know what that is like. We also have no means to prepare us for what will come in the future. It will be a trial by fire for many of us. My mind also harkened back to multiple conversations I've had with brothers regarding this. I particularly remembered a time when I discussed persecution with a brother--he concluded that God would not allow his wife and children to suffer if God was a good Father. This book clearly flies in the face of that idea. It also flies in the face of my own life--why am I not persecuted. If the Bible says, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution", then why am I not persecuted. I could come to only 1 conclusion: Because I am not serious about explicitly sharing the Gospel.
The question you ask yourself after reading this book is this: Is following Jesus worth it? Is it worth losing everything? And that is the purpose of this book. It forces us to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "What am I doing with my life?" That's great, because we need a good shake-up on a regular basis.