I wanted to get back to some spiritual reading this year so I grabbed this off my shelf and started reading a couple of pages every morning. It's old - published in 1961 - but most of it is completely relevant for today or any other time in history. There are a few dated references but they don't interfere with the message of the book at all and the book still feels current.
What he's saying through this book is that every Christian is a minister, that we can't just hire someone to do the job so we can go home and comfortably forget about it. We are all part of a task force left here to spread Christ's influence. The message is not new of course, but the way he says it doesn't let the reader shrug it off. He forces you to look at yourself and ask what you are doing with your time. He doesn't do it with guilt, he just, in his unassuming way, gets you to open your eyes and face your own personal reality.
I found it honest and straightforward, yet gentle at the same time. The writing is absolutely beautiful. And there was so much good material in it that I read it through twice and have by now underlined about half of the book. These are some of the most helpful passages to me:
"They are looking for a bold fellowship, and what they find is a complacent society concerned to an absurd degree with its own internal politics or so unimaginative as to suggest that the world can be saved by three hymns and a sermon or Mass."
"A Christian is a person who confesses that, amidst the manifold and confusing voices heard in the world, there is one Voice which supremely wins his full assent, uniting all his powers, intellectual and emotional, into a single pattern of self-giving. That Voice is Jesus Christ. A Christian not only believes that He was; he believes in Him with all his heart and strength and mind. Christ appears to the Christian as the one stable point or fulcrum in all the relativities of history."
"Our commitment is outside the spirit of Christ if it involves an effort to ride over other men, to use them for our cause, or to see anything else as more important than the individual welfare of individual persons."
"Somewhere in the world there should be a society consciously and deliberately devoted to the task of seeing how love can be made real and demonstrating love in practice. Unfortunately, there is really only one candidate for this task. If God, as we believe, is truly revealed in the life of Christ, the most important thing to Him is the creation of centers of loving fellowship, which in turn infect the world. Whether the world can be redeemed in this way we do not know, but it is at least clear that there is no other way."
I wish I could memorize this entire book. I need Trueblood's wisdom to stay in my head until it becomes second nature and I'm actually living it. It is so very easy to be distracted by less important things.
If you're looking for a book to encourage you in your spiritual life I hope you will check this one out. It is truly a breath of fresh air.