I met Jeremy Writebol a few years ago when I was making monthly trips to Seattle, WA as a Re:Train student. Despite his fondness for the Missouri Tigers, Jeremy, a fellow student, emerged as a great friend. He recently asked if I would read and review his new book, everPresent: How the Gospel Relocates Us in the Present. Of course, I was more than happy to do so.
Where are you?
Jeremy bookends everPresent with this seemingly simple question. The answer is obvious, isn’t it? Right now I’m here, sitting in front of my computer at a neighborhood coffee shop writing this blog post.
Yet, Jeremy challenges the Christian to answer this question carefully, on purpose, and in light of gospel truth. Our answer to this question matters. It matters because place matters. Place matters because we were created in the image of an omnipresent God. To use Jeremy’s words, “Place matters because God made it matter.”
Dislocation and Relocation
Place matters, and yet, we live in a “world of dislocation.” Things simply aren’t as they should be. Our world is full of pain, suffering, and death. Something is wrong.
Our own lives are no different. We’re often distracted, overcommitted, anxious, and weary. Our world is dislocated and so are we.
The root cause of this dislocation is sin. Jeremy explains:
The fact that this world where we live does not reflect the glory of God well is because our souls have been dislocated.
This dislocation began with Adam and Eve and plagues us still today. It affects our relationship with God. It affects our relationship with one another. Though we love to try, we’re powerless to relocate ourselves and make things right. We need someone to intervene. We need a Savior to relocate our dislocation and to reconcile us to God.
The Implications of Our Relocation
Once Jeremy establishes this vital foundation of the gospel, he spends the last half of his book exploring the practical implications of our relocation in Christ in everyday life. In doing so, he does the important work of deconstructing the idea that there is somehow a dualistic divide between the sacred and profane, the holy place and the secular place. All places matter.
As a new parent, I was encouraged and helped greatly by Jeremy’s chapter on the ever-present gospel in the home. His application to the workplace addresses, what I have observed to be, one of the most difficult places to live out one’s gospel identity. Finally, the final two chapters on social environments and the city challenged me to develop and pursue a bigger, more intentional vision for engaging my city and neighborhood context with the good news of the gospel.
I’m really excited about this new resource and I look forward to getting it into the hands of others. In a world full of distractions, it’s more difficult than ever before to actually be present. Yet, our mission as God’s sent people demands it. In _everPresent, _Jeremy confronts our tendency toward dislocation and invites us to be relocated by the gospel in the present.
In case you’re wondering, Nebraska won that year’s matchup with the Tigers, 31–17. ↩