When most people talk about getting to the lost soul of Christianity, they talk about going back to the days of the early church. Mark Batterson takes us farther and in many ways deeper. Mark goes back to the Great Commandment of Jesus, and that’s why I loved reading Primal.
The lost soul of Christianity is found in loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. For Mark Batterson that means:
1. The heart of Christianity is primal compassion.
According to Mark, we are the “tribe of the transplanted.” The new heart Jesus gives, brings a new compassion for the world Jesus loves. You discover this new heart in the intersection of what breaks the heart of God also breaks your heart. For Bob Pierce and World Vision, it was the needs of children.
For many today Christianity is an intellectual exercise, they begin with the mind. Mark reminds me that Jesus began with the heart. In his chapter “A Drop in the Bucket” I appreciated his application of generosity to primal compassion. Love and compassion are more then a theory, they are concrete action lived out with generous hearts of compassion.
2. The soul of Christianity is primal wonder.
In the chapter, “The Island of Colorblind”, Mark calls for a renewal of the wonder of God’s creation. Having been mesmerized by myself by watching the sunset at the Grand Canyon, I appreciated his own Grand Canyon experience and divine wonder moment. Yet my favorite chapter in this section is “Seventy Faces” and his rabbinic quote, “Every word of sacred Scripture has seventy faces and six hundred thousand meanings.” That does not deny the one message of Scripture, but even more affirms how God’s Word intersects at different angles in one’s life. His comparison of such a view of scripture as a kaleidoscope was insightful for me.
3. The mind of Christianity is primal curiosity.
Being one who is a lifelong learner, I ate up the “Holy Curiosity” chapter that claimed “Learning isn’t a luxury; it’s a stewardship issue” or “When you stop learning, you stop loving.” I never heard it one put it that way, but won’t forget to steward my passion for learning and to let it fuel my expression of love toward God and others. His other chapter in this section, “One God Idea” is best summed up when he says, “One God idea is worth more than a thousand good ideas.” Amen. Even more I like how he fleshed out how this works with the Aramaic meaning of the word prayer that means “to set a trap.” Prayer, he writes, “turns us into first-class noticers” and “creates divine opportunities.”
4. The strength of Christianity is primal energy.
In his chapter on “Sweat Equity”, Mark writes, “Your sweat is a sacred incense. God loves it when we break a sweat serving His purposes.” Too often the church has lifted up the academic, Jesus raises to the same level the value of hard work. In “The Hammer of a Higher God” chapter, Mark gives the secret for our strength, “Loving God with all your strength really means loving God with all His strength.”
Before I started reading Primal, I read the back cover and the plea, “Our generation needs a reformation. … The reformation will not be born of a new discovery. It will be the rediscovery of something old, something ancient. Something primal.”
I expected a plea for a simple missional approach to the faith. Mark gave me something better, a powerful affirmation of the value of the Great Commandment not only when Jesus gave it 2,000 years ago, but when you and I live it today. For that reason, I give Primal, 5 out of 5 stars.
Want to check out the 1st chapter of Primal? Click here.
How about 6 day devotional that goes with the book? Click here. The devotional will give you a brief overview of 6 of the chapters.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review through their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to give a positive review.