I have been following Shawn Wood on Twitter for several months and enjoy his insights. When I started seeing the ramp up to the release of his book Wasabi Gospel, I decided it would be a good thing to check out. I was not disappointed.
There are a couple of things that stand out about this book that are refreshing. One is the interweaved story of “Laura” in the form of diary entries. The raw reality and emotion of working through life change is captured very well using this method. It adds to the draw to continue reading. So many books that are written on Christian life have great information, but lack something because they don’t tell a story at the same time. Not having a story or stories tied to what is being presented can leave some very good teachings and valuable insights a little dry. Shawn does a great job keeping the insights fresh and connected with the reader. “Laura’s Story” is a big part of that.
There is another aspect of this element that I very much appreciate, but I hesitate to mention because it could be a bit of a spoiler to someone who has not yet read it. Hopefully this is a good compromise: the way Shawn leaves Laura’s Story is well done as it matches the raw reality of the whole.
Another thing that stands out about this book is the no holds barred honesty that Shawn uses to address each of the sayings of Jesus that he chose to address. Right off in chapter one Shawn shares of a time he was going to speak on a part of the Sermon on the Mount. As he was preparing, he was hit hard with the reality of what Christ was saying. Here are a couple of excerpts from that chapter (pages 7&8):
“I have a long standing rule against lying when I preach. So, in an attempt not to go get myself struck by lightning, I read over and over the statement above [Matthew 5:7] and asked myself the hardest question that someone can ask themselves when studying the Bible: ‘How can I live this out?’ …
“Suddenly, God placed a name in my mind. It was the name of someone who had hurt me and many people whom I love very much in the worst kind of way. …
“I had to be honest. Not only did I not want to give this person mercy and forgiveness, I wanted to hurt this person back.”
He goes on the chapter about how he did manage to work through that and gives some great insight into forgiveness and mercy.
Each chapter is like that. It will cause you to think and evaluate. If you will be honest and allow the experiences Shawn shares along with the very pointed statements of Jesus that are addressed in this book to get a hold of you, you will be forced to repent and change at least once before you reach the final page of the book. The words of Christ are powerful and they bring us closer to God. But, that process requires humbling ourselves, realizing our faults and shortcomings, and moving forward with resolve to let those words shape us.
While the length and format of this book lend it to being called an “easy read”, it only qualifies as that if you read it thinking about how someone else needs to read it so they will change. The book is easy to read, the truths take effort to apply and live out. If we all lived out the words of Jesus the way He intends for us to, well, life would be much different and this world would be turned upside down.