Christians In the Age of Outrage: A Review
Why this book?
A couple of months ago, when I opened up my Facebook feed, I saw a post from one of my friends that read:
Taking a break from Facebook. My friends, it's just so angry around here. The most significant thing I see on my timeline right now is a ton of friends bashing or praising a group of politicians. So I need a break.
As soon as I read this post, I wanted to lift my hands up and say, "Amen!" Because that post pretty well summed up what most of my social media has looked like since December.
And then I realized that if this Facebook friend was feeling this way, and if I was feeling this way, then there are probably a lot of other people feeling this way too.
We live in a world where we are constantly surrounded by outrage. You can find this outrage if you tune in to Fox News or CNN or MSNBC. You can find this outrage after the latest Star Wars movie has been released or after a referee makes a bad call during an important game. You can find this outrage when it comes to the cups Starbucks serves coffee in or the way a cashier at Walmart offers you a seasonal greeting.
We are constantly surrounded by outrage.
And sometimes it gets to be too much. So we all struggle to figure out how we should live in this age of outrage.
So that's why I picked up this book, Christians in the Age of Outrage by Ed Stetzer.
What's this book about?
Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College. That means that he gets to spend a lot of time thinking about how we, as people of faith, live out our faith in the world today.
So throughout this 282 page book, Stetzer reflects on how we can live out our faith in the age of outrage. And he does this in three parts. First he writes about what has lead us to this age of outrage. Next he tackles the lies we tell ourselves about why our outrage is okay. But the main section of the book (it makes up about half of the book) is about alternatives to the outrage in our world today.
In fact, if I had to sum up this entire book in one sentence, I'd pull a line directly from this last section where Stetzer writes:
Grace needs to be the starting point of how we engage others.
And he's absolutely right. Instead of starting from a point of anger and outrage, we -- as followers of Jesus -- have to start from a place of grace and love.
And, of course, Stetzer expands on this idea throughout the last half of his book as he tackles everything from the way we use social media to the way we interact with the people who literally live next door and in our neighborhoods.
Recommendation: Worth the Read
Now I'll admit that it took me a little longer than usual to work my way through Christians in the Age of Outrage. That's partially because I had thought of using it as a resource for a series of sermons that never materialized. But it's also in part because of the heady nature of the book.
It's a well thought out book that is filled with research that helps Stetzer make his case...but that information can be a little overwhelming. However, Stetzer does a nice job of working in stories to really drive his points home (you can tell he preaches).
But when you consider the age that we find ourselves in -- which he appropriately dubbed an age of outrage -- this book was well worth the effort to read. It's helped me to realize that the answer isn't to unplug from the world when the outrage gets to be too much. Instead I have to find ways to be the gracious presence of Christ even in the midst of all the madness.
So, if you've got the time to commit and you feel yourself struggling with the outrage around you, pick up Christians in the Age of Outrage. I think it will help you through the struggle.