Monday, January 4, 2010

Thoughts on Primal

Mark Batterson’s Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity is based around the Great Commandment of Jesus: Love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. I think the subtitle is a little overreaching. I don’t know that the issues that he mentions are “lost” but the book is thought provoking. I am merely going to post the thoughts that I underlined. I probably won’t react to the book in too much depth. On the whole I enjoyed it. I was inspired to act instead of to merely ponder these thoughts. At times, though, Batterson likes to tell his reader of all the things he has done and the great accomplishments of his church. But saying that, this book will be very helpful for entrepreneurial types (i.e. church planters).
I am very thankful for receiving this book. I got an email because I was a college minister and this book was in appreciation for the things we do.

These are the four “primal” elements detailed by Jesus in the Great Commandment:
The heart of Christianity is primal compassion.
The soul of Christianity is primal wonder.
The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity.
The strength of Christianity is primal energy.
Mark had a desire to return a time in his walk when he had a huge heart for God. Thus it was a “primal” place for him. He knew that getting back what he once had meant getting back to basics. It meant doing what he had once done. It meant rediscovering and re-imagining what it means to love God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. He wants all to return to that “primal” place we all have.

The Heart of Christianity
Batterson uses an illustration of Dr. Bill Frist (former Senate majority leader) who performed many heart transplants. He described that miraculous moment when a heart beats in a new body for the first time. Likewise, when a believer gives his/her heart to Christ, Christ gives his heart to you. And you begin to feel what Christ feels. We cannot be okay with issues like suffering or injustice or starvation because it is not okay with Christ and his heart is within you.
Batterson then moved on to discuss our action in the face of our impact. How and why do we respond to the needs of others? There was a research project where people were given a charity request. But the groups received two different letters. One version featured statistics about the magnitude of the problems facing children in Africa. The other letter shared the needs of one seven-year old girl named Rokia. On average, the participants who read the letter about Rokia gave more than twice as much as the ones who received the statistical letter. This points out that calculations reduce compassion, but we give more when our hearts are impacted. Our hearts should break for the things that break the heart of God. Inaction, then is not an option.
Faith equals God-ordained risks in the face of fear. Obedience equals God-honoring decisions in the face of temptation. And compassion equals Spirit-prompted generosity in the face of greed. Batterson gives a great challenge to all Christians to set a predetermined income ceiling. The goal is to give away everything about and beyond their predetermined income ceiling.

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