The Five Books That Made Me a Believer
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the world and about God, you’re not alone. It can be hard to know what to believe when so many ideas are out there. In high school, I was rather bored with my faith and had a lot of questions that even the church hadn’t answered satisfactorily. Thankfully, one of my friends lent me a copy of The Five Books That Made Me a Believer by Zackery Zacchino. It wasn’t long before I was hooked on the story of Jesus and the impact he had on those around him. These books will make you believe again in God and trust in His love for you too.
The Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters is a brilliant primer on the enemy’s strategies for deceiving and distracting us from our relationship with God. In this timeless book, the devil (who is actually just an “inferior” being — not an actual person but a type of “energy”) outlines his plan of attack: He wants us to spend all our time and energy worrying about the wrong things. He wants us to be so caught up in other things that we forget why we are here. He wants us to fail to see the big picture. He wants us to be dishonest so we can’t trust each other. He wants us to spend so much time doing stuff that we forget how to be together.
He wants us to become so attached to stuff that we forget how to be attached to God. The Devil’s plan is nothing new but we are so incredibly weak that we can’t resist him for long. Satan wants to break us down so he can build us up into a gluttonous, self-centered, and lukewarm collection of people who don’t take initiative but expect someone else to do everything for them and then complain when they can’t get their stuff together in time to meet their every need. The Screwtape Letters is a short but very important read that helps you see how to overcome the Devil’s tricks.
The Message is a book that came to me at exactly the right time. I had been struggling with my faith and was confused by what the Bible said. I was also frustrated that even though I felt like I was on the right track, I was missing the mark. Then I found this book and it changed everything for me. The Message is a book intended to be a message from God to all people. In it, the author, Eugene H. Peterson, shares what he believes God’s message is to us all. Peterson was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary before he wrote this book, which is why it’s written in a very academic style. It’s also very Christ-centered. I can’t recommend this book enough if you’ve ever felt lost or unsure of yourself as a Christian.
This is the book that got me back into the church. I’d always heard that John was a book that helped the early church, but I hadn’t read it until I was in my late twenties. I wish I’d read it sooner; I think it would have been a huge help to me. In John, Jesus talks about himself and what he did on earth. He also talks about what he will do for us as his followers. It’s not so much about what Jesus did for us, though, as about what we will do for him. Much of the book is about Jesus’s relationship with his Father and how that relationship affected him. Peterson talks about how important it is for us to understand where our love for God comes from and why we should love him. The way we do that is by living for his glory in the things we do and by loving each other as he loved us.
This book is all about the church. Peterson writes about the early church as a whole and how they were impacted by Jesus’s death and resurrection. He talks about the people who helped shape the early church and how they impacted the future of the faith. This is another book that is not so much about the people themselves but the impact they had on others. Peterson’s book helped me see that the early church was not just made up of Christians but of people who were followers of Christ. These people had a different way of living than other people. For example, as a family, they shared everything, including their house and belongings. These people were not about belonging to a particular group. They were about following Christ in everything they did.
Peterson’s book on Romans is another short one, but it packs a big punch. Peterson talks about Roman society and how it affected the early church and the spread of Christianity. He also talks about how the early church was affected by the Jewish people and their culture. Rome was a very important empire, and because of the way it was structured, Christians often found themselves in conflict with it. Peterson wrote this book so that Christians could see that they were not the minority but that there were many people who also followed Jesus. Christians needed to remember that they were not the only people on the planet who were being set aside for God’s glory.
Colossians and Philemon
These two books are meant to bring readers back to the doctrine and principles that the New Testament authors espouse. Peterson talks about the importance of following Christ and doing the right thing. He talks about the grace that God shows to us, even though we are not deserving of it. He also talks about the importance of loving your neighbor.
The Purpose-Driven Life
The Purpose Driven Life might be the most important book of them all. It’s a book that talks about who God is and why he created the world and us. Peterson talks about how God is not focused on what we do for him but that we are all loved and accepted by him no matter what. Peterson says that if we want to know what God’s purpose for our life is, we should look at what we do. If we want to do what brings glory to God, we need to do what brings glory to him, even if it’s not what we think is fun or easy. We need to remember that we’re not serving our own selfish interests when we follow after Christ. We’re serving God and our neighbors.
The five books above are just a small sample of the many books that have shaped my faith. These books helped me see that God had a purpose for my life and that it didn’t matter what I had done in the past. The only important thing was that I followed after Christ. The Five Books That Made Me a Believer is a quick read, and it’s meant to help you rediscover the joy of reading the Bible again.
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