Title: Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Michael Yaconelli
How it was obtained: It was sitting on my book shelf at the office.
Time spent on the "to read" shelf: I just picked it up and started reading it.
Days spent reading it: 3 days.
Why I read it: I've been interested in reading this book for awhile. It is often lumped into discussions about spiritual formation along with Abba's Child by Brennan Manning and Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen. So I have been interested in reading it for quite some time.
Brief review: Messy Spirituality is a book about unconventional Christian growth. It is a book for people who are willing to admit they are spiritual losers. The premise of the book is that none of us is perfect, and we will not be. But God loves messy people. He loves entering their lives and transforming them. But most of all, God loves us even when we are not cleaned up and polished after he saves us.
I think there are a number of great principles in this book. I think a lot of people feel like they do not follow after God hard enough. They don't DO enough. This book is a healthy corrective to that mentality. Messy Spirituality is full of anecdote after anecdote of imperfect people trying to live by grace. Many people have been hurt by their churches because they do not fit the mold of perfection (and legalism). What I like about Messy Spirituality is that it reminds me that all of us are broken people and need God's grace every day. Some of us are just more blatant than others.
I agree with a lot of what Yaconelli says in this book. I agree that people are broken. Even Christians are broken. I loved what he had to say about us being spiritual losers. We get things wrong and we need to rely on God's grace. However, my biggest complaint about this book is that sometimes Yaconelli seems to revel in defiance. At times the message almost (or maybe it does) comes out as a blatant disregard for actual growth. We should never get rid of our rough edges. We should stay defiant and allow our imperfections to run along unchecked. I think there is something to be said for being real, and embracing our brokenness. It is something else to want to stay there. I think Jesus did so much more for us on the cross than simply allow us to join him. He takes us broken and hurt and dirty. But I think he also wants to transform us. And it is a process, and it will take time, but I think real growth and real maturity is possible. I'm not sure Yaconelli's book teaches the same.
I would recommend this book to people who struggle with wanting to (or needing to) feel like they are perfect. I would also give it to those who feel the exact opposite. I think there are great words of encouragement in this book. There are great stories of God's love. I think it just falls a little short of helping us to truly grow.
Favorite quote: "Spiritual growth is more than a procedure; it's a wild search for God in the tangled jungle of our souls, a search which involves a volatile mix of messy reality, wild freedom, frustrating stuckness, increasing slowness, and a healthy dose of gratitude."
Stars: 3.5 out of 5.
Final Word: Messy.