Relentless Pursuit: A Critical Review

Posted: July 29, 2012 in Book Reviews
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The overarching theme of this book is the recognition of being outsiders. What it feels like on the outside looking in. Gire states that we are the marginalized; the disenfranchised. Sin is what puts us there. Sin is what keeps us there. There are times in our lives that we feel alone. We feel as though even among friends or in a crowd that we are immersed in a sea of strangers. But, Gire concludes…there is good news for those who are believers in Christ. God relentlessly pursues those who are the loners of the world. He tirelessly seeks after us; to relate to us; to love us; to befriend us.

So, what does this look like? This whole idea of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe spending countless hours pursuing unworthy humans to have an intimate relationship with seems so out of tune with the earthly reality that we witness on a daily basis. In our daily experience, we certainly may be the beneficiaries of the loving patience of those who will forgive us for minor offenses. Even then, normally, those whom we offend do not actively pursue us to restore the relationship. Normally, they don’t run after us if they do not see any sort of remorse from us. And that is exactly the point of contrast that Gire is attempting to paint for us in this book. Jesus does exactly that. Similar to the parable of the Prodigal Son, we take from God whatever we can for our own selfish purposes and evil devices naively believing that a hedonistic life of pleasure and “freedom” await us when we turn away from God and exchange it for a life of debauchery and sin.

Normally, we give credence to the fact that God seeks the lost. We know in our heads that God is in the business of pursuing those who are far away from Him to bring them into the fold. But, Gire brings up the novel notion that His relentless pursuit doesn’t end there. Even once we are safely within the fold, we still often succumb to the tasty treats from Egypt. We long for the sweet, savory delights of our old lives. We see our lives with Christ at times as burdensome and restrictive. We wander. We run. We get lost. Even during those times God runs after us just like the one lost sheep who loses his way, God leaves the flock of 99 to make sure that we return safely back into His watchful care. He sees us as worth the pursuit. He loves us just that much.

What I appreciated about the book was the way Gire wove illustrative stories throughout which pulled upon my emotions and drew me deeply within the reality of how much God truly loves us. We are introduced to people whose lives were so chaotic and tragically sad, or hopelessly lost (such as Francis Thompson or C.S. Lewis). Gire does not attempt to paint pretty pictures of people who are living the good life now and who have their lives all together and basically deserve God to pursuit after them at a stallion’s pace. He vividly reveals the details of the way in which God actively pursues. The steps that are involved are faithfully portrayed in what cannot be denied to be anything less than the sovereign hand of God especially as he narrates the details of his own salvation testimony as to just how God relentlessly pursued him. Gire unapologetically cuts to the chase and clearly diagnoses the cancer and time and time again demonstrates the remarkable ways that God is able to intervene in a person’s life to completely change a person’s mindset and submit to this relentless Pursuer.

One particular note of disagreement I had personally lies in the observation that Gire makes regarding that God’s plans radically changed following the Fall. He notes that when Adam and Eve were sent to dwell East of Eden that this was “Plan B.” I am not sure if Gire intended for this conclusion to sound as though somehow this caught God off-guard and He had to edit His playbook to accommodate this “surprise.” But, that is the conclusion that I drew from his observation. I don’t believe this was a Plan B at all. I am certain from the broader context of Scripture that God understood this all along and that He had a redeeming plan in existence throughout eternity. The relationship that existed with Adam and Eve with God was certainly different than it was prior to the Fall. And, yes, it would affect humans throughout eternity. There would no longer be the perfect communion between man and God. Yet, to call it a “Plan B” I believe is much too strong of a term since I believe it taints an attribute of God; His immutable nature.

One note of caution as I read through the book. It does appear that Gire does seem to overemphasize the role of God as Pursuer. In comparison, I don’t believe that Gire gives a balanced evaluation that, yes, indeed, God does pursue those who are lost as well as those who have been found, yet are prone to wander. But, there is an important element of human responsibility. He seems to focus primarily on the undeniable fact that the father does in fact pursue the son. Yet, he overlooks the context of the parable that the son did come to his senses first and was on his way back in repentance.

I received a free copy of this book to do this review from Bethany House Publishers.

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