This brilliant comment was written by an "unbeliever" in response to an article giving a negative review of The Shack by William P. Young. I believe it is worth the time for every believer and follow of Christ to read.
My name is Aram and I just finished reading The Shack. I then went online and happened across a bunch of people arguing about it, for what looks like a few years now. People are calling this a heresy, a dangerous book, and warning people not to read it. Why? I normally never comment on these things, but being an unbeliever – yes that’s right, I am not a Christian – I thought it might be useful for some of these theology spouting authorities to take a moment and look at what I, not a churchgoer in any way, have gleaned from this little book. And then ask yourself – because I really don’t know much about the Bible – is anything I learned leading me in the wrong direction? Perhaps all the way to this burning lake of fire so many Christians love trying and scare non-Christians into believing by? If this is the case, then I guess you’re right, and based on what you believe people shouldn’t read this book. For me, I don’t believe fear and rules to be the answer, I never have. This has been the main reason for my avoidance of the church. However, when you preach love and forgiveness, through whatever means conveys it the best, whether fiction or otherwise, well now, my heart begins to open a tad. It makes me actually want to pick up a Bible perhaps and maybe read a little further. Teach love my Christian friends, because people like me, we don’t respond well to fear tactics. And we definitely don’t get turned on by arrogant church leaders who think they have it all figured out. Below are 57 new ideas I took away from this little book. Many are direct quotes from the book itself:
1. The different appearances of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were used to help Mack break his religious conditioning.
2. You don’t get brownie points for doing something through obligation; only if you want to.
3. Life takes a lot of time and a lot of relationship.
4. How free are we really? – family genetics, social influences, personal habits, advertising, propaganda & paradigms etc. Freedom is an incremental process that happens inside a relationship with Jesus Christ.
5. When all you can see is your pain, perhaps then you lose sight of God.
6. Pain has a way of clipping our wings, so we can’t fly. After awhile we forget we were ever created to fly.
7. When Jesus became a man he gave up his own ability to heal people and do miracles. His miracles were accomplished by Jesus’ (a man, a dependent limited human being) trust in the Father God. We are all designed to live like that, out of God’s life and power.
8. God exists in three persons so we, his creation, can also live in love and relationship, just like God does. If God didn’t, we couldn’t. “God cannot act apart from love.”
9. Relationships are never about power, and one way to avoid wanting power is to limit oneself – to serve.
10. Sin is its own punishment, devouring from the inside. It’s not God’s purpose to punish it; it’s God’s joy to cure it.
11. When people choose independence over relationship, we become a danger to each other.
12. If people learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as their own, there would be no need for hierarchy. God does not relate inside a hierarchy; God wants us to trust him because he will never use or hurt us.
13. When Christians don’t trust God it’s because they don’t know they are loved by him. They think God is not good.
14. Mack says: “I just can’t imagine any final outcome that would justify all this (pain, suffering etc).” Papa replies: “We’re not justifying it. We are redeeming it.”
15. The choice of God to hide so many wonders from man is an act of love that is a gift inside the process of life.
16. For any created being, autonomy is lunacy.
17. When something happens to us, how do we determine whether it is good or bad? By whether we like it or if it causes us pain. This is self-serving and self-centered.
18. We become the judge of good and evil; so when each person’s good and evil clashes with someone else’s, fights, even wars, break out.
19. Eating of the tree tore the universe apart, divorcing the spiritual from the physical. All of us died, expelling the very breath of God.
20. We play God in our independence. The only remedy is to give up the right to decide good and evil and choose to live in God and trust and rest in his goodness.
21. God is light and God is good. Removing ourselves from God will plunge us into darkness. Declaring independence will result in evil because apart from God, you can only draw on yourself. That is death, because you have separated yourself from God, from Life.
22. This concept is difficult for us because the good may be the presence of cancer or the loss of income, or even a life. Sarayu answers: “Don’t you think we care about these people who suffer too? Each of them is the center of another story that is untold.”
23. About having ‘rights’: “‘Rights’ are where survivors go so they won’t have to work out relationships.”
24. Jesus gave up his rights so his dependent life would open a door that would allow us to live free enough to give up our rights.
25. Each of us is wild, beautiful, and perfectly in process when God is working with a purpose in our hearts. We are an emerging, growing, and alive pattern – a living fractal.
26. We tend to live either in the past or the future; dwelling on the pain and the regret of the past, instead of a quick visit to learn something from it. Or fearing the future, letting our imagination run wild with worry, and forgetting to see the future with Jesus. This happens when: a. we don’t really know we’re loved and b. we don’t believe that God is good.
27. Apart from Jesus’ life, we cannot submit one to another. Jesus’ life is not an example to be copied. Jesus came to live his life in us; so we will see with God’s eyes, hear with his ears, love with his heart, and touch with his hands.
28. Some say love grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is the skin of knowing.
29. We human beings are constantly judging others because we are self-centred.
30. We say: “Predators deserve judgment, their parents, too, for twisting them, and their parents, and on and on, until finally we go right back to Adam, and then, why not judge God? He started it all…isn’t God to blame for our losses? He could have not created, or he could have stopped the killer, but he didn’t.” If we can judge God so easily then, of course, we can judge the world. We must then (e.g.) choose two of our five children to go to heaven and three to go to hell, because that’s what we believe God does. Mack could not choose any one of his children because he loved them no matter what they did. So instead, he begged that he could go to hell for his children. This response is exactly what Jesus did. Mack judged well. He judged his children worthy of love, even if it cost him everything. This is how Jesus loves. ‘And now we know Papa’s heart.”
31. God’s love is so much larger than our sin could ever be.
32. Evil was never a plan of God’s. We must return from our independence, give up being his judge, and know God for who he is.
33. When we receive God’s love and stop judging him we let go of the guilt and despair that had sucked the colours of life out of everything.
34. God never abandons his children. We are never alone. God could no more abandon us than he could abandon himself.
35. “Live loved.”
36. When we leave the light of God and retreat to the darkness all alone, the darkness makes our fears, lies, and regrets bigger in the dark. Sometimes, as a kid, doing this is part of survival, but now we must come to the light.
37. Jesus will travel any road to find his children. But only one road leads back to heaven.
38. Stories about a person willing to exchange their life for another reveal our need and God’s heart.
39. Even though God can work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies, it does not mean God caused it. Where there is suffering, you will find grace in many facets and colours.
40. ‘Love’ bothers to keep trying to touch people and never gives up.
41. Sometimes we hide inside lies that justify who we are and what we do.
42. Ask for forgiveness and let the forgiveness heal you. Take the risk of honesty. Faith does not grow in the house of uncertainty.
43. Our transformation is a miracle greater than raising the dead.
44. All evil flows from independence.
45. God’s purposes are always and only an expression of love. God works life out of death, freedom out of brokenness, and light out of darkness.
46. Emotions are neither good nor bad. They are the colours of the soul. They are spectacular and incredible.
47. The more you live in the truth, the more our emotions will help you see clearly.
48. Trying to keep the law is actually a declaration of independence, a way of keeping control. Keeping the law grants us the power to judge others and feel superior.
49. Responsibility and expectation are dead nouns, full of judgment, guilt, and shame. Our identity becomes wrapped up in performance. The opposite is when God gives us an ability to respond that is free to love and serve in every situation, with God in us; and expectancy is alive and dynamic with no concrete expectation – only the gift of being together.
50. To the degree we live with expectations and responsibilities is the degree we fear and the degree we don’t trust or know God.
51. If God is the center of everything, then together we can live through everything that happens to us.
52. Forgiveness is big.
53. When bad things happen, what God had to offer us in response is his love, goodness, and relationship with us.
54. God doesn’t do humiliation, guilt, or condemnation. They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness.
55. Forgiving isn’t about forgetting; it’s about letting go of another person’s throat.
56. Forgiveness does not create a relationship; it simply removes them from your judgment.
57. Because you are important to God, everything you do is important.