Just Love: Personal and social transformation in Christ
by Angus Ritchie and Paul Hackwood
Publisher: Instant Apostle, 2014
Reviewed by Sarah Cawdell
Offered as a Lent book, and using the Sunday gospel readings as a starting place this book offers material for individuals and/ or group work.
In some ways it is a standard Lent book, designed to help people think through the costly implications of faith at a time of year when the church is accustomed to hard thinking , and some of us welcome a challenge.
However this particularly rich resource gathers experiences and stories from Salvation Army, Anglican and Roman Catholic sources, drawing on theologies across the spectrum from Pentecostal to high church catholic in order to concentrate on the kingdom values of justice and peace.
Without pulling any punches it demands and offers tools for an attention to living which demonstrates that it is possible to practice the Christian faith radically in a society which is compromised by sin and struggling to find coherence at the end of an era.
The book provides a chapter a week of some biblical thinking, a particular experience and exercises to work on in order to explore the concepts of just love – that is of the grace of God experienced and worked out in real life situations.
There is no mention at all of the rural church, and the examples are heavily urban , but the book still manages to demonstrate the power of community action to change the atmosphere in which we live. The authors challenge the church to stop worrying about the externals of women’s ministries, the place of gays, the ways to appeal to the young or the old, all the ways in which we seek to control and manage the ways of God with the world. It offers instead that necessity of worrying about the kingdom of God for which we pray, where individuals are valued for their contribution to the wider community, where each is appreciated for the likeness of God which they make known, and where we work together for justice in the best sense of the word in meaning that we can live at peace with ourselves and one another.
I have found it a book dripping with rich joy and delight in the love of God. It is easy to read, but simple to live out, but I feel that it might be quite costly to buy into.
I would love to study this book in company with other praying Christians, and see what could happen in our community when the Spirit of God is let out of the box in which I keep I control.
Sarah Cawdell lives in Shropshire with her husband and three teenage children.