Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Present Perfect, A Review

A friend gave me a copy of Greg Boyd's Present Perfect a while ago when I did not read nor return the one he lent me. I get a lot of book suggestions, and I seldom feel compelled to read another one beyond what I need to read for my teaching at Legacy and beyond.

What started as a gesture of friendship turned into a new level of intimacy with God and an awareness of God's presence in my life and others. Boyd builds his case for living with God in the now on the writings of Frank Laubach, Brother Lawrence, and J.-P. de Caussde.

Boyd claims based on these authors,

...that remaining awake to God's presence in the present moment is the single most important task of the Christian life and that no spiritual discipline is more foundational or transforming than this one. (18)

That's quite a claim, but Boyd supports it with his own insights that makes it viable for all who claim to know and follow God.

We live too much in either the past or future, according to Boyd, and by doing so we miss that "God is now." (26) Our "flesh-mind-set" keeps us from seeing God in the moment. We spend all of our time rehearsing past hurts or fearing what is in the future. He handles Scripture adroitly to support his premise that God is present, God acts in the present, and that we can experience God if we submit ourselves to God's presence.

He dislodged my own past-future view of things when he reminded the reader (in concert with his chosen authors),

...the challenge of living in the Kingdom is not about figuring it out. There's really nothing to figure out! The challenge, rather, is in submitting to it. The only information we need to know is that the love of God that was revealed on Calvary surrounds us at every moment and the supreme goal of our life is to surrender to it. The question then is, Will we do this? It's a question that can only be answered with a choice. And this choice can only be made in the present moment. (100)

Boyd moves beyond personal, spiritual exercises-which are at the end of each chapter and a strength of the book-to the implications of following the God-of-now's promptings toward others as we live in God's presence. I appreciated his take on revival chasers that look for what God is doing in other places and justice gatherings that drum up enthusiasm to create social activism. He writes that the realities of the present-future Kingdom of God can be experienced "by God's people staying awake and responding to him in each moment." (138) If the "body of Christ" would be just that, all people would know the love of God.


Get the book. Read it with a friend. Do the exercises. You will discover a fresh relationship with God and soon find yourself living in the glorious reality of now where God dwells and works.

2 comments:

glo said...

I love Practicing the presence of God by Brother Laurence. Someone "loaned" me a dog-eared copy, and when they finally asked for it back, it was even more dog-eared.

He truly prayed without ceasing and lived in the present.

Mike said...

I read Present Perfect about8-10 months ago and am re-reading (studying) it. For me, it is not a book I can read and put back on the shelf or sell on Half.com. Rather, I need the reminder of a re-read to again be alerted to the futility of living in the past or the future--both habits of mine for most of my 64 years. I can testify that in those few moments in which I live in the present with a very present God, all those regrets of the past and fears of the future (which for me is as near as tomorrow) fade and God seems especially precious. Sorry, Mrs. Starkey (high school English teacher) for the run-on sentence.