Saturday, July 21, 2012

Can You Do Greater Things Than Jesus? Book Review of "Greater" by Steven Furtick

I received this book, Greater, by Steven Furtick for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. It will be on sale September 4, 2012.

Have you ever pondered Jesus words in John 14:12, where he says "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (NIV).

These words of Jesus are what came to Steven Furtick's mind as he thought about the death of Steve Jobs. Bringing him a new challenge, he wondered "Greater things than Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived? What does that even mean? How can we do greater things than Jesus?" (p.4). Furtick explains that he does not think it means that we will do more powerful miracles or be greater than Jesus, but rather, through the Holy Spirit, "Jesus released a greater power for us to do extraordinary things on an extraordinary scale" (p.4).

Furtick believes that people are in danger of wasting their lives doing ordinary things and living mediocre lives. He wants to encourage people to live greater lives for God, and by greater, he means this: "the life-altering understanding that God is ready to accomplish a kind of greatness in your life that is entirely out of human reach. Beyond Steve Jobs. Beyond what you see in yourself on your best day. But exactly what God has seen in you all along." (p. 10).

Furtick weaves the story of the prophet Elisha throughout the book in order to give an example of someone who was willing to trust God and live a greater life than he'd imagined. Using Elisha's life, Furtick comes up with a process one goes through in order to live this greater life. Here are a few of the steps:

  • destroying the old way of life/what chains you to the ordinary (Elisha burns his plows) in order to fully surrender to God
  • do some preparation to join with God in what he will have you do (Elisha digs ditches to be filled with water on the promise that water will come to the drought)
  • do whatever God asks even if you think it is beneath you: having humility (Elisha tells Naaman to go bathe in a river)
Overall, Furtick's book was inspiring, practical, and challenging. It is easy to read and many people could benefit from it. There are discussion questions included at the end of the book in order to write our your own thoughts or talk about it in a group. These would be better served at the end of each chapter.

Some things I would have liked to have seen would be to not use Wikipedia as a source for a definition, some discussion about what other interpretations may exist for the initial verse of John 14:12 as well as some discussion about the context of the verse. While I appreciate Furtick's encouragement to people to live a greater life and truly listen to what God is calling them to do, I just don't think that is the message that follows from reading that verse. I think the book might actually be greater if it wasn't there and it focused more from the beginning on calling/vocation based on the life of Elisha. It also would have been good for Furtick to return to the verse at the end of the book in order to tie it all together with the beginning.

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