Over the past year, I have heard a few acquaintances mention reading or listening to Timothy Keller. I have pretty much ignored the conversations or recommendations.
Not because I wasn’t interested in what he had to say or write. It really boiled down to one simple reason.
I was burned out.
Nothing against Mr. Keller, but it just happens that his name fell on ears that were tired.
Somewhere along the road of finishing up my Masters of Divinity degree, editing books for my Dad, planning lessons for school and church and reading One fish, Two Fish to my two preschoolers…I lost interest in reading and listening to anything that required my brain to think.
If it required me to read more than 2 pages or listen for longer than 3 minutes, I was not interested.
I continued to read my Bible. I read and even led a few Bible studies.
Yet, the passion that I once had for reading and thinking deep into theological and social and educational issues had dwindled to an almost non-existent flicker.
Apathetic? Perhaps. Theology overload? Maybe. Given up on Public
Education System? Likely. Uninterested? Hope not. Tired? ABSOLUTELY.
However, this summer it was as if a light switch in my heart was clicked to the on position.
There are hundreds of books around my house (no exaggeration.) Some in boxes. Some displayed on shelves. Some on my bedside table.
Most all of the books have been opened and given a chance for a full read.
A few of them have bookmarks at chapter 4 or 5 and highlights and notes in the first couple of chapters.
I have stalked Mardel’s, Amazon, Lifeway, and the library trying to find a book that would actually keep my interest until the end.
A book that would reignite my love for reading.
My passion for sharpening my theological knowledge.
My heartbeat for the poor and the outcasts of our society.
My hunger to teach those on whom everyone else has given up.
This summer in the craziness of leading a children’s ministry team to launch a new campus and teaching a ladies Bible study, I needed a mind escape.
Movies have never been my thing, and so I decided to take a trip to the library.
I came home with three books.
Couldn’t make it through the first one without falling asleep. The second book lacked solid content to keep my attention.
I never was much for soccer but the words Global and Mom and the teaser on the back led me to check it out.
I had never heard of the book before that day at the library. Shayne Moore was a new name to me.
Global Soccer Mom was the first book in 8 years (since my last seminary assignment) that I picked up and read from cover to cover in less than 24 hours.
Honestly, it has been six months since I read it, and I should have written out my thoughts as I read. I will put that on my list of things to do in 2013.
What that book did was reignite the fire in me to read, write, and study once again. I had tried in vain to rekindle the flame that once burned deeply in my heart.
Well, truth is I don’t really think many people who would read this review would truly enjoy this book as much as I do.
Unless you share a deep interest in sharpening your theology on justice in our society, you might not make it to the end of Generous Justice.
However, I know some of my friends who read my blog share my passion for studying the Bible and for ministering to the poor.
Some of you, like me, are tired of the debate on welfare and redistribution and whose responsibility it is to help the needy in our country.
If that is you, then Generous Justice would be a great edition to your “Books to read in 2013” list.
I enjoyed learning more about Timothy Keller, whom I had heard a lot about in the past few years.
I was challenged to dig deeper into some passages he referenced.
Do I agree with his position?
I am still working through many of his insights.
However, Timothy Keller did challenge me to continue my search as to what my responsibility is in this country where the lines that separate the wealthy and the poor become a battlefield over politics while children go hungry and their mother’s go to bed crying every night because they feel trapped.
I highlighted many things in Generous Justice that I intend to reread and soak in over the coming months, but one of my favorite things I highlighted came after Keller discussed that it seems to him that the problem is NOT that people in our society don’t know that they should help the poor and share with the hungry in the world.
He proposed that while people seem to know they SHOULD help and share, they lack an enduring motivation to do so.
Commercials of hungry children motivate for a moment.
Year-end tax write offs motivate once a year.
Summer and weekend church outreaches to rebuild homes or feed the hungry or give away toys and clothes motivate for a few weeks.
Keller proposes that “there is no greater question than how to motivate people to do what they ought for the hungry and poor of the world”
Keller gives this answer:
“Now we can see what an important and powerful resource the Bible gives us
when it provides for us not merely the bare ethical obligation to do justice, but a revolutionary new inner power and dynamism to do justice. The Bible gives believers two basic motivations: joyful awe before the goodness of God’s creation and the experience of God’s grace in redemption.”
I am guilty.
I know I need to do more. Give more. Help more.
Keller has challenged me to refocus my motivation.
Often my motivation for helping others comes from that ‘good feeling’ I get from knowing that I did something for someone else. Though this can be a great motivator, the focus of the motivation is on how it makes me feel.
Sometimes my motivation comes from my heartache for the one I am helping. This is the second greatest commandment. Love your neighbor as yourself.
However, if my motivation is going to endure it must be focused on the greatest commandment of all “Love The Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul.”
When I do this, then I find the motivation that does not give up during those moments when helping others is hurtful.
Because truth is: Generous justice opens the heart up to a whole lot of yuck in the world, and I need the enduring motivation that comes from “the goodness of God’s creation and grace He has given in redemption.”
Thank you, Mr. Keller. The heart of this tired “global mom” needed a refocus.
Here’s a youtube link to Timothy Keller teaching about generous justice, if you are in a reading funk like I was for 8 years!
***UPDATE: My mom is here as I am posting this and she read my blog with my son sitting next to her. Caleb said, “Oh Momma. Did you post that picture? It looks like you are a hoarder.” Confessions…I may have watched the show Hoarders. I may actually like it. I may have let Caleb watch it. I may have hoarding tendencies. However, I do Sterilite box intervention on myself at least once a year! Don’t call the show and turn me in!