A Different Kind of Happiness: Discover the Joy That Comes from Sacrificial Love by Dr. Larry Crabb offers up the proposition that a person will only truly find the deep and meaningful joy they are longing for through intentionally engaging in relationships through the pattern of sacrificial love displayed by and through Jesus Christ.
The concept of the book is certainly an important one and early on in the book the author is certainly on point. Dr. Crabb provides insight as he states:
Spiritual formation is relational formation. It is easier, and therefore more talked about, to practice spiritual disciplines in an effort to feel God’s presence than to practice them in order to draw on the Spirit’s power to love well. Spiritually forming people may or may not regularly experience God with them. But spiritually forming people will grow to increasingly reveal God’s nature by how they relate.
The point is important The agony of hell – and its foretaste now – is the suffering of being unable to love…image-bearers no longer capable of reflecting the nature of the One whose image they still bear. That’s hell. We can taste it now.
For everyone in Christ, the vision is quite the opposite. The joy of heaven will find its never-ending source in always and fully experiencing the presence of the Father, the love of Jesus, and the life of the Spirit. The overflow will be our uncompromised ability to love others with perfect love, eternally freed to relate from pure selflessness…That’s a party, and we’re invited (pp 46-47).
The remainder of the book focuses in on the “how” to live out the sacrificial love of Jesus through us: by walking the “narrow road” by the life of Jesus. It is here that the author begins to drift from his central thesis and instead focus on the suffering and “high bar” of following Jesus down the narrow road of a disciple of Christ. While his points may be relevant and contain a wake up call for those who see the Christian life as one that is supposed to be centered on making them happy – the author drives the point so hard that it seems unattainable (even by the power of the Spirit) and joyless (the opposite of the book’s title).
Though the overall point of the book is well thought through and an important thought needed in today’s comfort-centered Christianity; the ultimate joy of a disciple of Christ can get lost in the midst of the details of the book.
Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers http://www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.