BOOK REVIEW | Agents of Grace

I have enjoyed Dan Darling’s writing for several years. His transparency and heart for the Lord is really encouraging. He’s quick to admit where he has made mistakes and to share what the Lord has taught him in those situations. His newest work, Agents of Grace is a great read and a wonderful tool for any Christ follower that desires to truly live out Romans 12:18.

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

  • I’m writing to say that God is still at work in the world and to say that Christian love and spiritual unity are still worth pursuing. While I’ve been hurt by Christians, I’ve also been immensely blessed by Christians. Brothers and sisters in Christ have been there for me in my pain: single mothers who made meals when my wife endured a serious illness; small-group leaders who gave me money when I was suddenly unemployed and scared; a pastor who called and preached the Word of God to me when I was in despair. I’ve been blessed by wise matriarchs with arthritic knees who called down spiritual fire from heaven on my behalf when I was weak. I’ve been healed by friends who left everything and came to my side when I needed hope. Location: 377               
  • I remain in the church not because I refuse to see its many obvious flaws. I am here simply because I have nowhere else to go. I still believe Jesus Christ walked out of that borrowed tomb and is at work transforming the hearts of sinful people.  Location: 398              
  • Consider this book a family letter to remind us what we are called to be. We live in an age of disunity, with perverse incentives to turn on each other. But the Bible calls us to love each other in such a way as to arouse the attention of those who do not follow Jesus. Unity in the body of Christ is not just a nice thing if we get to it. Unity is a command, a way of life, a practice. Location: 402        
  • Our public battles are often not about “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people” but about opinions delivered on Facebook.    Location: 460            
  • In their book, Why Does Friendship Matter? Chris Firestone and Alex Pierce write, “Our vertical friendship with God organizes our horizontal friendships with others.” Location: 514           
  • It doesn’t matter how tight our theology, it doesn’t matter how active our activism, it doesn’t matter how inspired our worship, if we are not motivated by love for our brothers and sisters, our work for the Lord is in vain. That is sobering to me. I don’t want to do work that is in vain. Location: 559               
  • Christians are empowered to love one other by God’s love for us, but we are commanded to love one another because this is the primary way in which an unbelieving world is attracted to Jesus.   Location: 623
  • The gospel offers something radically better than conformity. It offers transformation. Growing in Christ means becoming the version of ourselves God created us to be, with our unique gifts and talents and personalities.  Location: 747              
  • If the cross, that symbol of torture and humiliation, was no accident but God’s plan to bring about our salvation, then we can see our lesser but still painful hurts as part of God’s plan for our good and his glory.    Location: 985            
  • We forgive only in proportion to how much we understand God’s forgiveness of us.   Location: 1,005             
  • How can we restore our joy? When I’m tempted toward cynicism, I return to a passage of Scripture Peter wrote to a discouraged people: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9–10). Let’s remember who we are and whose we are. And we might periodically ask God to examine our hearts to see what our real aim is when we proffer criticism of our church, of the church at large, of other Christians. Is it to build up the body of Christ or bridge divides? Or do we just want to score a few cheap points to be proven right? Prophetic words are meant to build up, but cynical words tear down. Prophets rejoice in repentance; cynics won’t allow themselves to see renewal.   Location: 1,330             
  • Christian communities don’t have to be monolithic. We can have reasoned debates about our disagreements. But we can also save our energy and our fighting spirit to stand firm in those places where we must not budge. All Christians share a precious body of truth handed down to us from the apostles, kept alive by the Spirit in two thousand years of church history, which shapes the life of Christ among his people.  Location: 1,680              
  • The task of a Christian in the world is to speak up for truth and justice, to work to shape communities for human flourishing, but to do these things in a distinctly Christian way. We can do this when we remember that the battles we are fighting are really spiritual battles. Scripture reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).    Location: 1,952     
  • My friend Michael Wear says it best: “Christians: The crisis is not that you are politically homeless. The crisis is that we ever thought we could make a home in politics at all.”Location: 1,976

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