I love Jonathan Martin’s preaching. I listen to his podcasts from Renovatus, his church in North Carolina. I just love the way he phrases things and his tangents and his southern style (it’s just southern enough to be cool without annoying me – it’s a fine line). When I heard that he was writing a book, I was very excited. My only fear was that I might not enjoy reading his words as much as I do listening to them, but this book did not disappoint. I could hear him as I read and it was the same style that I enjoy so much about preaching.
One of the highlights for me was how he talked about Jesus showing us a new way to be human. I’m a huge Switchfoot fan and they had a big hit called “New Way to Human” so the topic kept making me think of this song. It was a lovely connection that tickled me. The purpose of this book is get back to the basics in a lot of ways. It’s about embracing the fact that you are God’s beloved. When you truly know how loved you are it changes things, it changes you! He talks about how Jesus brought us these new ways to embrace ourselves, our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
One of the main points Jonathan hits is our identity. He used the story of the demon possessed man who when Jesus asked the demon for his name, the reply was “Legion” for there were many inside this man. For the first time I heard this story used to describe us and the overwhelming stimulation and voices we have in our life. It was very powerful to think that we suffer from too many voices, too many screens, too many versions of ourselves in our present time. We can relate to the man with the legion inside. Jonathan writes:
“Instead of being repelled by all the clamor, I rather enjoy being the center of my own universe. So I hear it as, ‘A thousand voices are competing for my attention. I must be really important.'”
This is something I struggled with for a long time. The greater the demand on me, the more I thought I was something special. In ministry, it’s easy to develop a hero complex that puts me at the center of everything, instead of Jesus. After years of frustration and burn out, I’m learning that my life is so much more peaceful when I know my place. When I allow God to define me and not my many roles or the people in my life, I am able to see who I really am. It’s easier to stay focused on what I am supposed to do and what I’m not called to do. In the story of the demon possessed man, his fellow townspeople got scared when they saw him in right mind. Martin brought out the point that in a world full many voices, it freaks people out to be around others who have a peace and understanding of who they are. We are so used to crazy that is the sane people that worry us. That peace that surpasses all understanding can be pretty freaky when you’re used to chaos, clamor and noise.
There are so many other thoughts that I could share from this book. I highlighted a lot! I love it when I’m highlighting up a book and thinking – “There are other people that get this! I’m not the only one that feels this way!” It’s so reassuring to my soul. In a lot of ways I feel like I live a counter-intuitive life. Not because of the things I don’t do. I’m not taking about the goody-goody Christian behavior list, but more on a gut level of I know who I am, I know what I want to do and I know where I draw the line. I know what feeds my soul and I know what drains me. I am learning more and more to balance my roles and not to wrap my identity up in them. I am learning a new way to be human. One that embraces God’s vision for my life and goes after it knowing that I will not always have fans and be popular because of my decisions, but with Jesus leading the way, I am willing to follow. Prototype is an excellent book that will make you want to follow after Jesus with a great passion!