How A Book Review Is The Heart Of A Sermon

During yesterday’s message, I read a quote from New York Times columnist David Brooks.

That in itself is not that unusual, as from time to time I’ll read an item about the subject at hand from any number of scholars, observers, pastors, and thinkers.

This particular citation came from a book review Brooks wrote about Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Here’s Brooks’ take on Albom’s theology:

In Albom’s book, God, to the extent that he exists there, is sort of a genial Dr. Phil.  When you go to his heaven, friends and helpers come and tell you how innately wonderful you are.  

In this heaven, God and his glory are not the center of attention.  It’s all about you.

Here, sins are not washed away.  Instead, hurt is washed away.  The language of good and evil is replaced by the language of trauma and recovery.

There is no vice and virtue, no moral framework to locate the individual within the cosmic infinity of the universe.  Instead there are just the right emotions — do you feel good about yourself? — buttressed by an endless string of vague bromides about how special each person is . . .

That review sounds more like a systematic theologian than a New York Times columnist, does it not?

Yet I found Brooks’ thoughts refreshing, compelling, and, above all, Scriptural.

We in 21st Century American have made heaven all about us.

But whether we realize it or not — whether we surrender to it or not — heaven has always been and will forever be all about God.

Sins will be washed away, evil will be vanquished, and God will be exalted.  Forever.  Regardless of our attempts to domesticate and trivialize him here on earth.

It’s a message that self-centered Americans — and even self-centered Good Shepherders — need to hear again and again:  heaven is not about you.  It’s all about God.

For any who long for an eternity that is in fact all about you . . . beware:  God may just give you what you want.