Sometimes theologians need to read books to motivate and inspire. Sometimes they just need to read something to make them laugh. I read a lot of pretty head stuff. For instance, I just finished a 700 page book by Tom Schreiner called, The King in His Beauty. To compare Schreiner’s book with Love Does by Bob Goff would be a little unfair. Schreiner’s book is intended to be a serious book about biblical theology. Goff’s book is not designed to be a theological treatise. It’s designed to motivate and inspire.
A while back, I responded to a blog post by Donald Miller. I entitled the post, A Black and White Proposal: Farewell to Fuzzy Thinking. My good friend, Ron read the post and knows that I’m not a big fan of Miller’s book, Blue Like Jazz. When I visited Ron in Okinawa, Japan he encouraged me to read Miller’s book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. I resisted. He persisted. I had other important things to read. He wouldn’t give up. Ron said, “Dude, you’re a cyclist. Miller’s a cyclist. You’re gonna dig this book.” So because I love and respect my friend, I actually decided to read A Million Miles. Ron was right. I loved it. In fact, I need to read it again!
There is a story that stood out to me in A Million Miles. It was a story about a wide-eyed friend that Miller made somewhere along the way; a story about a guy who loves life and made a huge impression on Miller. I’m not sure how I made the connection, but somehow it became clear to me that Miller’s friend was Bob Goff. So I eagerly devoured his book, Love Does.
Love Does is a series of brief meditations; short stories that provide a window into the life, loves, and passions of Bob Goff. The subtitle is an accurate reflection of what Goff intends to communicate in the book: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.
While Love Does is not designed to be a theology book, the author does bring theological commitments to the table. For instance, in Chapter 29 he admits that he quit attending what Christians call a “Bible study.” The idea behind this practice is this: The author argues, “We don’t need to study Him anymore to know Him.” I understand what Goff is getting at here. He’s tired of storing theological facts in his brain that don’t make a difference in the real world. And this is certainly commendable. The problem is that Christ-followers are called to study the truth of God’s Word – which involves a careful study of Christ (2 Tim. 2:15). And while the intentions appear commendable, the popular notion of “deeds not creeds” is, in the final analysis not Scriptural. We are instructed to be “filled with a knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:9b-10). So this is not an either-or proposition. Christians are not given a choice to study or live out the claims of the gospel. They are commanded to do both! And living out the gospel (what Goff creatively calls, “Love does”) is a supernatural result of one’s knowledge.
Having said that, if readers approach Love Does with the right perspective, they’ll find it strangely liberating. It is filled with encouraging stories and pithy bits of wisdom drawn from the real world of Bob Goff. And this guy knows how to do life. He truly is a breath of fresh air! My encouragement would be – read this book. Read it with discernment. Allow Bob Goff to rub off on you. And learn from his example of living life with passion and intentionality.