"Love and Power" by Charles Garriott. A Review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Whether it's high-profile Evangelical pastors being removed from their positions, politicians slamming and slurring their rivals, or husbands tyrannizing their wives and children, there is a common ailment infecting them all - us all. Charles M. Garriott, pastor, author, and pioneer in a ministry to those in government positions as part of the Presbyterian Church in America's Mission to North America, presents readers with an opportunity to examine their love of self in a soon-to-be-released 128 page softback: "Love and Power: Glimpses of the Gospel for Those Addicted to Self." This easy-to-read manuscript addresses a highly prevalent predicament that worms its way through most of our hearts: narcissism.
In a sense, men and women in civil government often reflect the citizens they represent, but on a larger, grander scale. Therefore Garriott uses the Beltway as his canvass for painting a portrait of how we often fall into the self-made trap of self-centeredness. Chapter-by-chapter the author addresses, and undresses, the self-deluding ways we assure ourselves that we're number one; that we're entitled to power, fame, glory, success, and so forth, exposing our soft underbelly. And yet, each chapter, increasingly and more intensely, circles back around to the only way we can be liberated from our self-congratulating tyranny: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not the syrupy, sappy, self-affirming gospel that tells us we're really okay, we just need a little power boost. But the Gospel of Jesus that tells us how bad we really are, and the great lengths God has gone to rescue us from ourselves and our self-inflicted demise! "One side of the gospel focuses on who we are. Simply put, all of Adam and Eve’s children, all mankind, exist in a state of rebellion against a holy God and are in need of reconciliation. We often offend God by what we think, what we say, and the way we behave...The second part of the gospel focuses on the remedy for our dismal position. The only way we can be reconciled to God is through his Son, Jesus Christ. By his perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection, we are brought into a right relationship with God through accepting his salvation—life—by faith and repentance" (18).
Even as a pastor I was confronted with the ugliness that can burble up out of me by way of piety and position. It came to the forefront when Garriott was describing the outspoken follower of Jesus, Peter. It was the scene where Jesus began talking about his coming death at the hands of the religious elites, and Peter became all bothered and rebuked Jesus. Garriott then observes (and this hurt hard!): "Peter...was spiritually-minded and ministry-oriented. The man had left everything to follow Jesus. He gave up his fishing career and old life to do what few would be willing to do. Yet, when reminded of the most significant event in God’s redemptive plan, he became an obstructionist. He was not cheering Jesus along in his work. He was in the way...It seems that Peter had developed an agenda that he believed superseded Jesus’ agenda" (65-6). Ouch, that bite left bloody teeth marks!
"Love and Power" is a book devoid of self-righteousness; in fact, the author even dedicates the book to himself! It's easy to read, and could be worked through in a two hour sitting, or read devotionally, one chapter at a time. Christians in politics will find it a must, and will even see the value of handing out copies to their colleagues on both sides of the isle. Business leaders, professors, school teachers, taxi drivers, and short-order cooks ought to grab a copy as soon as they can. But this pastor urges every Christian pastor to purchase their own volume, get alone with God, and let the Gospel presented in this volume work them over. It will likely hurt, dear fellow pastors, but it will be the kind of hurt that starts some much needed healing. I unreservedly recommend the book.
I am grateful that Garriott invited me to review the book, and sent me an electronic galley copy used for this review. He left me to write the analysis as I saw fit. Therefore my comments are freely made and freely given.
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