Saturday, November 22, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Nuggets of wisdom found in Singh's simplicity

I have lived in states like California, Arizona, and Hawaii, places that thrive off tourism. One thing I learned to be able to spot quickly is a tourist. They really do stand out!

That's why when I travel internationally, I do my best to blend in. I may visit a few key historical sites that draw large crowds of tourists, but I like to get off the beaten path and find out what the "locals" like to do and explore how they live. It broadens my view of people and this world, and it has helped to teach me that people in different places live very differently, but that often doesn't make it wrong, just different.

The same is true about the Christian faith.

It's hard for an American to think of Christianity in any other way than our Westernized version of it. But the Christian faith can look very different in its application in other parts of the world. It's true there's one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, but how we live out our faith in Jesus Christ will have some cultural variances. That doesn't make it wrong, it's just makes it different.

There's a new book out called "Wisdom of the Sadhu: Teachings of Sundar Singh," compiled and edited by Kim Comer (published by Plough Publishing House) that is a good example of how the Christian faith can look a little different in other cultures. This book shares the teachings of Sundar Singh, considered by many to be India's "most famous convert" to Christianity. While Singh embraced Christ and the Christian faith, this book explains that he purposely didn't embrace or accept "... Christianity's cultural conventions, even as he embraced its stark original teachings."

Singh chose to share his faith in a more culturally relevant way by living as a "sadhu," a poor, wandering "holy man." As I read some of the compilations of Singh's teachings, I was delighted with the simplicity he used in telling stories to illuminate biblical truths. Let me share with you just two examples ...

"Think of the ship; it belongs in the water, but water must not come into the ship --- that would be disastrous. Similarly, it is right and fitting that we live in this world, and if we stay above the surface, then we can reach the safe harbor of life --- and help others to do so. But it would be our demise if the world penetrated into our hearts. The spiritual person holds the heart free for the One who created it."

And here's one more ...

"A little child will run to his mother exclaiming: 'Mother! Mother!' The child does not necessarily want anything in particular. He only wants to be near his mother, to sit on her lap, or to follow her about the house. The child longs for the sheer pleasure of being near her, talking to her, hearing her voice. This is what makes him happy. It is just the same with those who are truly God's children. They do not trouble themselves with asking for spiritual blessings. They only want to sit at the Master's feet, to be in living touch with Him; then they are supremely content."

I found the simplicity of Singh's teaching to be a great breath of fresh air from the popular, shallow hyperbole written by so many famous megachurch pastors today. But with that said, I must also say as I read I discovered multiple times where I had theological differences with Singh. You may discover differences as well. Even so, I think you will find much of this book to be encouraging and enlightening, both to your faith, and how others may share the same faith a little differently in a different setting.

Scotty

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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