TRUE RELIGION: Taking Pieces of Heaven to Places of Hell on Earth


I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple of months and finally got around to reading it just a little over a week ago. It’s a fairly short book and easy to read, but it took me a while to get through it. I couldn’t stop weeping. Seriously, I grabbed it up and took outside to read in the sun while trying to rejuvenate my tan that is disappearing as rapidly as good weekly sitcoms. What I thought was going to be a good “inspirational” read turned out to be just that, but oh so much more. It was profound, transformational, soul-searching, and, at times, tremendously heart-wrenching. This book couldn’t have come at a more needed time for me.

Far too many Christians spend countless years at the same level of spiritual maturity, never growing deeper, never moving forward, never accomplishing more for Christ, never experiencing the life of great faith. This is why transforming moments are so necessary (p. 23).

The Christian faith of the future will be shaped by what happens in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The next revolution for God is out there . . . not in here (p. 51).

Stagnancy will kill your spirit. The Christian who in not being used by God to change lives, to make a difference for Christ, will dry up, stagnate. Transformation will not happen . . . God has a hard time working change in a life that is not going anywhere (p. 55).

These statements are at the heart a sentiment I hold very firmly, and he sets it out from the very beginning, in the introduction. Chinchen purposes that what is necessary for personal growth and a deeper faith in God is not more church services, but diverse experiences that require people to step completely out of their comfort zones and see the ugly horrors of hell on earth. It is only by coming face-to-face with tragedy, human suffering, and complete poverty–literal and figurative–that people begin to get a greater sense of what Jesus meant when He told us to love the least, serve others, and feed His sheep. It is by EXPERIENCING hell that we really become servants of heaven. And for the majority in this country, we have no clue what hell really means and forget that, for many, hell has a zip code.

. . . if places of hell really do exist, then by all means, God’s people must be about the business of taking a piece of heaven to them (p. 62).

This world is not for making home, so live on the go–go and live; really, really live (p. 52).

If you have aspirations of giving yourself away to this world–and also hope that God will do a transforming work in your life–then allow me to encourage you to consider forfeiting several aspects of your America-ness, or Brazil-ness, or Korea-ness or whatever your nationality may be . . . (p. 183).

What he’s getting at, and what resonated deeply within me while reading his stories of injustice and his personal experiences of seeing God move mightily in the lives of those who’ve gone in response to God’s call to “GO.” is that we were never meant to live as residents on this earth. We are to live as nomads. The minute we start thinking about digging a big hole in our back yard for a swimming pool instead of digging wells so that thousands can finally have clean water, then it’s time to move. We should care more about eradicating curable diseases like malaria than the Christmas decorations at church. If we are busy going and doing for others in response to the compassion of Christ, then we won’t have time to get caught up in the pettiness of life and in building our own private kingdoms over building His kingdom.

When God fills you with desire, find resolve . . . there are some things we cannot wait to do. The timing may never be just right, the circumstances may never be quite what you want, all the money may never be there . . . but do it anyway. Because that perfect day might never come . . . Live the desires of your heart. God has put you here to do certain good for Him–you, and only you. Not your parents, not your friends, not your pastors–you. Fight resistance. Find resolve (pp. 144, 146).

God wants us to change the world. He doesn’t need for us to have greener grass in our front yards, tanner bodies for vacation cruises, new linens for our overnight guests, or a matching set of his and her watches. God wants us to go and relieve the suffering of the silenced. We change the world by facing our own fears and going anyway. We change the course of a family’s future by rescuing a woman out of sex trafficking. We can provide a light of hope by washing the feet of the homeless person who hasn’t had a real bath in nearly six months. We show what genuine love really looks and feels like when we hold a frail mother as she lays her baby in ground knowing it’s only a matter of time and she’ll be there too.

We take so much for granted when we already have so much. Jesus told us to go and serve and show the world what living really looks like. Why is it that so much of what we do as Christians is more about asking the poor to come and receive instead of us going and giving. I’m convinced that He doesn’t care where we go and what we give so long as we’re going and giving.

book is simply a compelling reminder to a culture of people who’ve forgotten what it’s all about. I was one of those who had forgotten.

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