Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Review: Embracing Obscurity

I recently read Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God's Everything by Anonymous. As I write this review, I’m having a hard time expressing just how helpful this little book has been to me.

I think, especially in our affluent society, we are groomed at an early age to clamor for the world’s version of “success.” Successful people, we are told, get good grades in school, are leaders and athletes, graduate college with honors, get successful jobs, make lots of money, have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, and are loved by everyone who knows them. That’s the “American dream,” right?

But is that how God would have us live? The American dream mentality fosters pride in those who accomplish it. Then the rest of us try to console ourselves by touting our meager virtues to everyone we know so that we can feel good about ourselves, too.

Think about it: in your heart of hearts, what do you honestly hope that people think about you? That you’re a great mom? You’re thoughtful? A great teacher? Funny? Intelligent? Giving? Athletic? Think about that for a moment. When your name comes up in conversation, what do you hope will be said about you?

We all want to be valued. We want people to see value in us and affirm our wonderful qualities. We sometimes even convince ourselves that those are good things – that we are somehow being good representatives of Christ if we have a good reputation for {place your idol of choice here}.

The problem, of course, is that this focuses solely on us and not on the person we’re here to make famous: Christ. In the words of the anonymous author:

Embracing obscurity is about being content with being “relatively unknown” so that Christ can be made more known. Temporarily going hungry so that many more may be filled.

Christ brought the Father glory by becoming nothing (Phil. 2:5-11). If He is our example in everything, it follows that we also will glorify our God when we embrace an obscurity of heart for His sake and for the sake of others.

There are so many facets of our lives touched by this simple principle, and I think the author touches on all of them. I have underlined and starred and “Amen-ed” more in this book than I think I have in any other book – and that’s saying something! This is a book that I think I will need to re-read often to remind myself of its truths.

THE VERDICT: I highly recommend this book for any believer.

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