Book Review | The Curious Christian

“To be a vibrant Christian is to be curious.” Barnabas Piper, The Curious Christian

I enjoy following Barnabas Piper on Twitter. He shares some insightful thoughts about Scripture, culture, and family. And he also regularly shares awesome deals he finds on Kindle books for sale…some of which have become my favorites! And he is a great writer in his own right, check out his books HERE. One thing I’ve appreciated about him as a writer is that he grew up as a pastor’s kid…but still loves Jesus! He’s experienced some challenges in his life…but still loves Jesus. He is raising teenage daughters and wants them to love Jesus as well. And he’s a pastor in Nashville at a church that is doing some really interesting things in evangelicalism.

The Curious Christian was a great read. Piper reminds the reader not to lose the sense of awe and wonder that we have for Jesus. He challenges the reader to stay curious about the things of God.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted those notes below…

  • What if that idea we avoided holds a kernel of truth that might grow into a vibrant concept of God that we’ve never encountered before? Location: 89
  • In the end I want you to see that curiosity is more than a mere trait. It is a discipline, a skill, a habit – one that will expand your life in magnificent, if subtle, ways. Location: 102
  • Curiosity is like taking your mind and heart on trips to exotic places to experience things you’ve never before seen and then returning home to take those we love with us. Curiosity is a lifestyle all its own – a holistic, comprehensive interaction with the world around us and all it holds. Location: 104
  • Not Childish The ability to retain a child’s view of the world with at the same time a mature understanding of what it means to retain it, is extremely rare – and a person who has these qualities is likely to be able to contribute something really important to our thinking. Location: 125
  • The wonder and merriment and raw enthusiasm kids bring to otherwise mundane experiences reveal the spirit Jesus praises. This is child-likeness, not childishness. Location: 154
  • Imagination guides and shapes our use of information. Location: 217
  • Unpredictability becomes opportunity. Location: 242
  • Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. Location: 243
  • The resonance of God’s voice in all creation is part of what is called common grace16, that kindness of God to reveal significant aspects of Himself and His goodness to all people, whether or not they profess faith in Him. Matthew 5:45 exemplifies this when it says “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” and Romans 1:20 adds some clarity: “For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.” Common grace doesn’t save, but it does summon. It doesn’t declare or explain the saving work of Jesus but it draws people closer to the creator, or at least the notion of a creator. It tugs at people’s hearts and minds and makes them wonder, and through wonder comes discovery. Location: 327
  • Joe Rigney, in his excellent book The Things of Earth, describes creation as communication from God. “Creation is a message, an invitation to be drawn into the divine life, the ecstatic vibrance of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.”17 But it is a veiled invitation, one that requires interpretation and a guide. A loon’s call and rushing waterfall stir hearts, but to what? For people to enter into that “ecstatic vibrance” something more must be at play. All creation is not equal. All truths are not equally clear and understandable. Common grace, natural revelation, stirs hearts but stops there.   God must have intended something more for some part of His creation. If He truly meant to reveal truth, if He wanted his creative word to be effective, then He must have done something clearer, created something more.   Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.18   Indeed, there it is, at the end of the Bible’s creation account. No matter what you believe about the order or time frame of creation, no matter how old you think the earth is or how man evolved or didn’t, you must recognize this: God made mankind in his image. He didn’t do this for the seas or skies or beast or fowl or flora or fauna. Only people.   What does it mean to be created in God’s image? The implications are plentiful, but I will point out two. First, we are unique. God did not make anything else in His image. The angels are not even made in God’s image. Hebrews 2 explains that man is “a little lower than the angels” but that Angels were not charged with ruling over creation. Only mankind was created to inherit the earth. Christ did not come as an angel or spiritual being. He came as a man, fully human, and we are heirs with Christ unlike any other created species or being. We are mammalian, but not animals. We are biologically similar to apes but not essentially similar. We are created to do and to speak God’s revelation not just echo it. We are the images of God to all the world and to each other.   Joe Rigney does a superb job of expressing the second implication. “Being made in God’s image is a vocation, something that we are called by God to do and to be.”19 A vocation, a calling, a work we are to dedicate out lives to. That means it is on purpose and with a purpose, not just a state of being. Our vocation will not be done by accident or with passivity any more than your to-do list at work will complete itself while you take a nap or your infant will feed himself while you watch TV. We must reflect God intentionally, each day. Location: 334
  • One of the most profound ways humans live our vocation of reflecting God is through creating. Unlike any other beast of the field or bird of the air, people can make. Location: 360
  • Creativity is art. It is inventiveness and ingenuity. It is the pursuit of beauty and efficiency. It is the connecting of ideas and resources to make new ideas and better resources. You and I were created to create and discover, created for the vocation of reflecting God’s image. But we were not created to live in isolation. God made man, and it was, the Bible tells us, not good for him to be alone. He was to be in relationship, to live communally. Our vocation is a collective one, a joining together of individuals into cultures to reflect God.   And as people come together to do this, to find ways for lives to intersect and work together, cultures and subcultures are created. This means that cultures reflect the image of God. In the West we think individualistically – “I am made in God’s image.” In many parts of the world, though, people view identity as collective – “We are made in God’s image.” Both are correct so long as they do not discount the other. In many cases, the movement of a culture, a group of people, can actually reflect more of God. Like a mosaic is many bright tiles combines to create a picture so a culture is many little reflections combined to present a greater image. Location: 391
  • To be a vibrant Christian is to be curious. Location: 462
  • Most things don’t cross most people’s minds or spark a question. Most people’s minds are petrified by comfort and overwhelmed by busyness. The structure and pace of life leaves little room or motivation for asking questions or noticing anything new. Location: 495
  • If we entrust our children to schools alone we are setting them up to be warehouses of knowledge and little idea why it matters and what difference it can make in the world. We are not helping them be better. We’re simply helping them know more, to be masters of the Scantron. But life is not lived by choosing from options A through D and passing a standardized test. Neither is it lived in safe little grooves we’ve carved for ourselves. So we must seek perspective and the experiences that create it. Location: 620
  • Curiosity has a sort of a pay-it-forward aspect because every time a curious person asks a question it has the potential to spark curiosity in someone else too. Curiosity pushes people to do more, think more, be more, and as more people live expanded lives they are bound to overlap and intersect. When this happens each person’s live changes again and more opportunities are provided for discovery and new experiences. Curiosity is exponential, not isolated. Location: 761
  • Noticing is a muscle and the more we do it the stronger it gets. Flex it, notice, and then latch on to whatever grabs your attention and be curious about it. Location: 1,480
  • We need relational, micro curiosity and macro curiosity to cross cultures well. It will be a life-long effort for the same reason that curiosity in relationship is – the endless rich depths of cultures reflect the endless rich depths of the individuals who form them. We will learn to respond to differences not as threats, our default position on the unknown, but as new aspects of something God made and we can learn to appreciate and love. We can learn to trust and we can gain trust. Curiosity born out of a desire to understand the creator of all nations and cultures will come to see those peoples and cultures as He does. Location: 2,018

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