“This book is for people who have a hunch…that God is stirring a new movement in our world today,” writes Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in the introduction to The Awakening of Hope: Why We Practice a Common Faith. “Call it what you will, if Jesus has grabbed you in a way that you know isn’t just about you and your soul,…if God’s vision of peace and justice burns in your bones,… if you’ve longed to see the love we were made for lived out in community – this book is for you.”
There are many resources that focus on what Christians believe, but in this book, Wilson-Hartgrove seeks to articulate the “why” of faith. Once God’s story has captured our hearts, our lives should change in response to our newfound faith – but what does that look like? Using Scripture and other life stories, Wilson-Hartgrove creates “a photo album full of pictures of hope.” This album contains stories of Christians who have been so captured by the gospel that it influences every aspect of their lives.
But he doesn’t stop there; Wilson-Hartgrove digs deeper into these stories to help us engage the question, “Why?” Why do Christians eat together? Why do we fast, make promises, choose to live where we do? Why do we share good news?
In my work, I often encounter Christians who draw an artificial distinction between right belief and right action. Wilson-Hargrove’s book show that rather than being polarizing forces, right action is always the response to right belief, and his book can help to provide a theological foundation for people who want to live a life in which their actions are a natural extension of their faith (James 2:22).
Having a familiarity with Wilson-Hartgrove’s work, I was not surprised to discover this well-written book is engaging and easy to read. But don’t be deceived, his style may make the material easy to engage with, but he’s drawing from a deep well. This is a book to be read slowly, and savoured, and ultimately, a book best read within the context of a faith-based community that wants to explore together the question, “Why do people who follow Jesus do the things we do?”
The book includes a group discussion guide and there is also a companion DVD. The DVD was not available for review, but if the content in the discussion guide is anything to go by, this combination of material will be enriching, challenging, and – above all – hope-filled for any group looking to go deeper in their faith together.