One of the more intriguing books I’ve read this month is calledÂ Present Perfect by Greg Boyd. This book takes a break from the intellectual depth of Boyd’s other books and focuses on the practical. The concept is simple: how do we experience theÂ presenceÂ of God in each and every moment? By combining the spiritual perspectives and practices of guys likeÂ J.P. de Caussade, Frank Laubach, and Brother Lawrence, Boyd brings a fresh collection of thought for the engaged reader today. I had read Brother Lawrence’s book The Practice of the Presence of God and found it far too simplistic. The core idea is valuable but it felt as though he simply said the same thing over and over. Boyd tackles the same idea but presents it in a way that gives it legs to move. Here are some of my favoriteÂ quotes:
We remember the past and anticipate the future, but we always do so in the present. Reality is always now. And the single most important aspect of reality is that God is present in it every moment. The important question is not, Did I once surrender my life to Christ? The important question is, Am I surrendered to Christ right now? For the only life we have to surrender to Christ is the life weâ€™re living this moment. I believe this is the most prevalent and tragic misunderstanding that afflicts contemporary Western Christianity. We make a vow to submit our life to Christ but then spend 99 percent of our time excluding him from our awareness. We make him Lord over our life in theory, but we do not make him Lord over most of the moments that make up our life. The very process of trying to acquire Life on our own forces us to miss most of life, for real life is always in the present moment. When we live as though we can acquire Life from things other than God, we inevitably live as though reality wasnâ€™t always in the present moment. Becoming â€œsingle-mindedâ€ doesnâ€™t mean we have only one thing on our mind. But it does mean that we strive to always include one thing on our mind, whatever else we may have on our mind. We are single-minded insofar as everything we think, feel, and do is done against the backdrop of Godâ€™s ever-present love. We are single-minded not because every thought is about Christ but because every thought is taken captive to Christ. Why do so many Christians today spend more time listening to sermons or reading books than they do feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, welcoming outcasts, visiting prisoners, or engaging in other activities Jesus said should characterize Kingdom people? I suspect itâ€™s at least partly because many believe theyâ€™re already living in the Kingdom by virtue of the fact that theyâ€™re learning about the Kingdom. The truth is that there is no necessary connection between these two things. Itâ€™s impossible to remain surrendered to God moment-by-moment and remain apathetic about things God is passionate about. As his Life is poured into us, it canâ€™t help but begin to be expressed through us. Never suppose that God is more â€œthereâ€ than â€œhere,â€ or more â€œthenâ€ than â€œnow.â€Throughout the book Boyd asks the reader a question to practice the book’s concept. How do we learn to acknowledge God each moment? The question is simple. Are you awake?
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