About This Blog

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Altar Ego" (Craig Groeschel)

TITLE: Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are
AUTHOR: Craig Groeschel
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (240 pages).

"Your reputation is who others think of you. Your character is who you really are." With these words, an investigation is launched into three key ways to reset our egos from self-perspective toward the altar-perspective, to let God help us rediscover our Identity, our Values, and our call to Obedience. We build up our egos with temporal security when we fail to recognize who we really are (The Identity Problem). We surrender eternal values when we compromise the truth (The Values). We fail to practice passionate obedience when we choose to self-justify ourselves and our actions (The Call to Obedience). What is needed is to let our egos be dependent not on worldly measurements but by God. Put our egos at the altar of God, so that we can start to see from the perspective of the altar. Let us be measured in God's terms, not ours.

Part One begins with a call for an identity anchored in Christ. In a passionate plea to wake up the believer, Groeschel seeks to begin the process of anchoring our egos on the altar by focusing on the person of Christ. Our sacred identity is in Christ, not the worldly labels of success or achievements. In Christ, we are God's masterpiece, overcomers for God, and ambassadors for God. This calls for a sacrifice of our worldly self-image, and to let it be replaced by God's opinion of us. The key belief is that when we are identified with Christ as our core identity, we are free to live for Christ. First, we need to lay our false egos at the altar. Be careful about labels that define us, for they can easily lead us astray.

Part Two grows from the sacred identity in Christ toward living in Christ. Four virtues are highlighted. The virtue of patience counters the impulse driven worldliness that describes so much of the world we know. Impulsive actions tend to be more short-sighted, less thoughtful, and prone to foolish decisions. Patience enables us to pursue God more fully. It teaches us to be more conscious of the Holy Spirit. The virtue of integrity not only helps us match our behaviour with our beliefs, it can even bring about greater good in our circles of influence. The author shares how his act of integrity actually helps save a person's job. Not only that, a life of integrity helps other virtues to grow too, like respect, honour, trust, influence, and so on. The virtue of honour is an attitude of honouring others above ourselves, in the name of God. Groeschel observes that the way we honour others, is a reflection of the way we honour God. It is to believe the best of the other person, not just giving the person the benefit of the doubt. It builds up, not tear down. The virtue of gratitude is a way of life that helps us move from discontentment to contentment. These four virtues are evidence of a Christ-led life.

Part Three is the most radical of all the parts in the book. Like the previous part, Groeschel zooms in on four aspects of bold living; namely, bold behaviour, bold prayers, bold words, and bold obedience. In bold behaviour, one learns to stand up against expectations of the world to be more concerned about what matters to God, not distracted by what matters to man. Boldness means taking risks, moving outside our comfort zones, and proclaiming Christ boldly through our behaviour. What is the source of such spiritual boldness? Knowing Christ. In bold prayers, we pray what we believe about God. It is to pray that others know God more. It is God-centered, and oriented around the benefit of others. We pray big bold prayers when we are fully engaged with a Big God. In bold words, we let our deep-seated beliefs shape the words we say or write. It also means speaking boldly for the benefit of others, and loving others to speak the truth in love. In bold obedience, we are called to live a bold life of faith, where any doubts of worldly loss, we substitute with hope of kingdom gain.

My Thoughts

Groeschel has a gift of bringing to life simple concepts, and to turn it into a passionate delivery of powerful instructions and lifestyle exhortations. In this book, he not only gives us many reasons to long after Christ, he makes us excited about it all. Good works begin with the Good Word in us. Good deeds flow out of a good person in Christ, just like good fruits come from good trees. "Altar Ego" is an extremely practical and engaging book. With the many stories and illustrations, especially from his own life, Groeschel is generous with his self-deprecating comments, preferring to make fun of himself more, so that he can bring across his point less offensively. While that avoids offending other people, sometimes, I feel that he may have gone overboard with his silliness, and makes it sound rather ridiculous. Readers can take his sharing at face value, not more than that.

What is most beneficial for me is the fact that Groeschel tries to help us shift away from self-focus into God-focus. We need more books like that, especially in an age where self-help seems to be in vogue. In fact, this book emphasizes again the importance of faith in the daily lives of a Disciple of Christ. The reason why some Christians are living lives of mediocrity and lack-luster days is simply because they have not seen themselves as what God had intended. They have not read their own life's manual, written by the Creator. It is less important on how we see ourselves. It is more important how God sees us. The whole of life is based on this. This one message is worth the price of the book.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment