I just finished reading the most amazing book. I know you've heard me speak of Bill Myers' work before, but this one moved me more than the others up till now. Maybe this is because God's been changing me through these books, but ... I feel like I should talk about the book.
It's called The Face of God. Daniel Lawson is the pastor of a "mega-church" of over 4000 people. But on a trip to Israel, his wife is killed by terrorists. As in most of Myers' work, dreams play a prominant role. His wife, before she died, had a dream that Daniel would hear the voice of God; which is remarkable since he finds a stone left by one of the vendors he and his wife went to - a stone from the breastplate of the high priest of Israel, the breastplate that, when intact, allowed the priest to hear the voice of God Himself.
Another guy is looking for this breastplate as well. His name is Ibrahim el-Magd, and he is the leader of a strong muslim sect who are convinced that the final Jihad is at hand, and that Allah has chosen them to be the hand of His wrath. He seeks the breastplate (as well as the twelve stones of the tribes of Israel and the Urim and Thummim that go with them) to recieve God's final command to unleash Hell upon earth.
That, generally speaking, is the precept of the book. I might add that Myers finished the first draft of this book on 9/11 - kind of creepy, if you ask me. The major theme that runs through the book is that of compassion - compassion for one's neighbors, of loving one's enemies, of learning to love people who are different than you. Especially of the difference between legalism and faith - of loving others as God loved them, not of striving only for holiness and purity at the expense of love for God.
I felt very moved by this book. I identified with many of the characters from my own life, especially with many of their faults. Prejudice and legalism are easy traps to fall into, and I know that I've been guilty of them on many occasions.
But this book was mostly about freedom - the true freedom of expressing Christ's love for the world. The solution to becoming the person God wants me to be is not within myself. Rather, it is in seeking God - to be like Jesus. In seeking His character He will transform me; I cannot do this myself but by His power, by His grace, by His love - by His blood.