Frank Viola’s writing has consistently stretched me over the last few years. His Pagan Christianity rocked my world a little bit and his book Reimagining Church helped me dare to dream of experiencing and living out church in a more organic way.
But his latest book, that he’s put crazy work into, is totally different. And it’s challenging me in whole new ways.
The Gospel Made New Again
The premise of the book is unique and caught my attention right away. It’s called God’s Favorite Place On Earth and is set in Bethany. The beginning of each chapter is written in story form from the perspective of Lazarus (you know, Mary and Martha’s bro).
Even though I was intrigued I have to admit that reading these familiar stories in first person story form was a little awkward for me at first. But after chapter one I had settled in, adjusted to, and began to really appreciate the format. But what I really love is when Frank takes off his Lazarus hat for the end of each chapter and says hard and practical things about the cost of following Jesus.
It is (super) rare for someone to present the gospel to me in ways that make it feel new again. But Frank does that more than one time in God’s Favorite Place. Its so soul-refreshing for common bits of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to be shed in new light.
I don’t want to give too much away but Frank says some particularly challenging things about the role that being persecuted by fellow Christians plays in following Jesus. At first reading I wasn’t always sure if I even agreed with him, but it definitely made me think, which is a blessing in itself in a day and age when almost every Bible study feels rote, obvious, kitschy, and boring.
Needless to say, I think it’s worth the read. God’s Favorite Place on Earth is now available all over the place, but if you buy it this week (May 1st to May 7th) he has a crazy incentive practice of 25 free gifts. For example, been meaning to read Jeff Goin’s book Wrecked? Welp, buy God’s Favorite Place and get it a one of your consolation prizes.
So check it out. Especially if the Gospel feels dry and memorized.