So What About The Ortberg Book?

The Life You’ve Always Wanted has evoked plenty of reaction. That usually is a VERY good thing. It’s stirred things up a bit, it has made us think, it brought out some disagreement and will have helped us work things out to get us to a new place.

36 people accepted the gift of book. So at least 36 people either have been, are or will be reading Ortberg’s book. When we met in mid February, there was some discussion about the choice of the word ‘training’ to describe life as a Christian. Why set that up against ‘trying’?That led to a very open discussion about what it meant to be a Christian, our experience and different perspectives.

On five Wednesday evenings there was a chance to dig deeper together, both in discussion and putting into practice. Why hadn’t Ortberg talked about the joy we know when we meet together each Sunday (well, at least some!)? And isn’t music central in celebration? How can we go beyond confession being just words and what’s the tension between individual and communal wrongdoing? We prayed together for justice in our world. We drew close to Christ as we meditated on scripture. We thought about a ‘balanced’ life and one with God as its first priority. We prayed together in a couple of ways we know for God’s love to rule the heart.

Some identified difficulty with US cultural aspects of the book. Some had found it too anecdotal, whilst others had liked his stories – and appreciated his sense of humour. Some said it had stretched them, not always in a welcome way.

This has been a good context for us to do some learning together. Being ‘Christian’ does not come naturally to any of us whether we were baptised as a baby and have been in church every Sunday since or whether we have just discovered something of the wonder of Christ. All Christian living is counter intuitive in many ways. Central is development of a well ordered heart, ones which loves God and humans at the right time, in the right way to the right degree – God’s distinct way (Ortberg p 198.)

TOM GILLUM