When I opened the envelope with a complimentary review copy of Max Lucado’s new book ‘Out Live your Life’ from Booksneeze I was a little apprehensive. You see I haven’t read a Lucado book in quite some time. A few years ago I read so many Lucado books that I felt like I had become immune to his beautiful turn of phrase – I was Lucado-ed out. But as I sat down this weekend to read ‘Out Live your Life’ I was easily drawn into the book and finished it that same day.
Based on the early church in the book of Acts Lucado challenges the reader to make a difference in the way they live their lives – by showing compassion, breaking cultural walls and living radical relationship. Initially with all the statistical quotes about poverty I thought that this was another book in the ilk of Rich Stearn’s ‘Hole in the Gospel’ but although the book touches on poverty issues the real focus is relationships – noticing the people and their circumstances around you. While some of the examples he uses are people who went to radical lengths to help others many of the examples are just ordinary people who did something small that made a huge difference. It feels like Lucado’s call is not necessarily to the dramatic but to making a difference in an everyday kind of ordinary way and that feels attainable and less daunting than most books that deal with poverty issues.
Among my favourite chapters was Chapter 12 ‘Blast a Few Walls’ which is about how the early church, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, totally turned cultural barriers on its head. Lucado challenges the reader to be part of the “Bigotry-demolition team’. I also loved chapter 9’s (Do Good, Quietly) imagining of the conversation between Ananias and Sapphira. “Bottom line: don’t make a theatre production out of your faith” – a challenge to do good for the sake of doing good rather than to be seen.
On the downside I felt the book was firmly aimed at the American believer – but that is Lucado’s main audience. I also felt that the flow between the chapters was a bit disjointed – that each chapter stood alone, which is an advantage for those who like to dip in and out of a book or do the study in the back. It felt that each chapter had previously been a separate stand alone sermon from a series on Acts.
I found the study guide by David Drury in the back very interesting and especially helpful with his ‘Ideas for Action’, again following Lucado’s non-intimidating challenge to be radical with not too scary ideas to implement the chapter’s lesson.
Lucado’s challenge to ‘Out Live Your Life’ is a challenge to let our faith radically change our relationships, but Lucado issues the challenge in a gentle way that makes it attainable and not too overwhelming.