Earthy spirituality. Grace-drenched. Christ-focused.
If I had to sum up Chad Bird's new book, Upside-Down Spirituality, those would be the words that first came to mind. This book is a candid critique of how many contemporary, American Christians define success--a critique that turns these ideas of success on their heads in light of the teachings of Jesus. Bird's Spirituality is not that of some whitened-teeth, perfectly-styled hair, pop-Christian mega-star but that of one who has chased success as often defined; failed miserably to live up to that standard and God's standard; and found redemption, grace, and healing at the foot of the cross.
Many so-called "Christian living" books end up in my recycle bin. They are usually little-more than thinly-veiled, secular drivel that has no more to do with Christianity than the man in the moon. This book will never make Oprah's list, be recommended by Dr. Phil, or end up in your megachurch bookstore--it's way too honest, raw, and Scripturally-based for that. Instead, this book is for the guy who has failed to live out the American dream at his job or the dad who doesn't stand a chance at winning 'Father of the Year.' It is for the gal who failed at finding her soulmate, instead struggling at relationships or the mom whose Instagram feed reminds her of her constant failures as a mother. This book is for the worship leader whose Sunday corporate worship is as awkward as a Middle School dance and the pastor who feels himself a failure for never pastoring a church more than a hundred people. It is for all of us at whom the world wags its head but at whom Christ smiles with love, grace, and forgiveness. It is for all of us who have drunk too deeply at the soul-killing wells of the world and not enough from the living water.
The substance of the book is summed up nicely in the epilogue. I hope it will whet your appetite. "What [God] wants for us--his will for us--is to plant us so deeply within his Son that we bear his image, echo his speech, and walk in his ways. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God, and they revealed with Christ in this world...They are beatitudes that look ugly and weird in the eyes of the world but sparkle with perfect beauty in the eyes of our Father."
Thank you, Chad Bird, for your honest reflections on the Christian life. This is a life-changing work I cannot recommend too highly. My thanks to Baker Books for the copy and the opportunity to review it.