“Book Review: Strangely Bright by Joe Rigney”

Categories: Christian life, joy

I recently listened to Joe Rigney read his book, Strangely Bright, and I have been greatly blessed! You can get his book on Amazon here.[1]

The tag line under the title reads, “Can you love God and enjoy this world?” This is the theme of the book—how do we balance our love for God with our love for the things of this world. Doesn’t John tell us not to love this world or the things in it (1 John 2.15)? On the other hand, it seems obvious that God wanted Adam and Eve to enjoy the good world He had made for them. He wanted Adam to enjoy Eve, and Adam broke out into verse as he saw his beautiful wife for the first time. Adam spoke an ode about the woman, and men have been doing so ever since.

The verses which tell us not to love this world or to hate father, mother, sister, brother, etc. must be understood in their contexts. God is not telling us to despise all the things He has made. We know every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights (James 1.17). God gave us food not only to sustain us, but also for our pleasure. When God says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34.8), we understand that because God has given us good things to taste. God gave us delicious food to show us a little about Himself! When David says God’s word is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19.10), we get it because we love the sweetness of honey.

Joe Rigney points out that we cannot, in fact, love God the way we should if we don’t love what God has given us in this material world. Some Christians fear loving someone too much. What if they loved someone more than they love God? We should certainly avoid idolizing anyone, but it is virtually impossible to truly love someone too much. Of course, the more we love someone, the more pain we will inevitably experience when we are parted from that person, and we might avoid loving because we wish to avoid the pain. But a love for a spouse, a love for a child, a love for a bosom friend reflects the love God has for us and we for Him. Our close relationships on earth teach us more about God’s love.

When we appreciate beauty in nature, we see what God loves, and we learn to love what He loves. This should lead us to praise Him with hearts full of gratitude. And if He has made such amazing things here, what has He prepared for us there (John 14.3)?

Yes, we can love God and enjoy this world. God intended for us to enjoy His creation, and if we are not enjoying this world, we are missing a boatload of blessings!

I encourage you to grab a copy of the book in print or audio—it’s worth the read!