Gire shares biblical examples of those who could be categorized as “outsiders” including Christ Himself who was “despised and rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief.” If our Master spent significant amounts of time with the prostitutes, thieves and prodigals of His day, shouldn’t we as His followers do the same?
We, in the Church, can make ourselves so comfortable with the insiders that we lose sight of those who struggle each day to survive. We must go “outside the camp” with and for Him to listen to and care for those who’ve been forgotten by mainstream society.
Gire reinforces the fact that God is in relentless pursuit of us, all of us, because He created us and desires a relationship with us. He includes the classic poetic work by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven, which relates the Spirit of God’s pursuit of man and our efforts to shake Him off. Thompson himself was an addict, an “outsider” who knew the shame of being out of the mainstream.
Gire admits his struggle with the story of the Good Shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep who were safe in the fold to rescue the lost one. Why would He, Jesus, risk losing those who were insiders, safe at home, to find that one “outsider”? Because of His deep, redeeming love!
In the midst of our hurt and shame, God welcomes us with all of our imperfections and invites us to eat at His table as redeemed “outsiders”.
Those readers who expect a “Systematic Theology” in every Christian book they read will be disappointed. Detractors will say that Gire shares too many personal experiences and, in doing so, becomes too subjective. I disagree. I found myself relating to the author as he opened his heart and became transparent.
If you are content to enjoy your circle of “inside” friends and you’re hesitant to step outside to engage with the less fortunate and those often labeled and “undesirables” you might read a chapter or two then set the book aside. But, if you are willing to take the risk and obey Christ’s call to go “outside”, you will see how rewarding it is to show love to the unlovely.
I’ve read several of Gire’s earlier offerings but connected with Relentless Pursuit on a deeper level.
This book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House Publishers". http://www.grafmartin.com/