2015 Reading List: Not By Sight

Bloom, Jon. Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith.

Not by Sight is a collection of short meditations on what walking by faith probably looked and felt like for a number of people in the Bible. What must it have felt like for Joseph to struggle with Mary’s news? What could it have felt like to be one of the Jews who met the repentant Zacchaeus?

Not by Sight is the product of a faithful imagination engaging with the realities of walking with Jesus. Jon Bloom writes with a novelist’s creativity and a pastor’s heart. This is not deep theology in the sense of inaccessible academia; this is deep theology in the sense of rubber-meets-the-road, Jesus-is-worth-it living.

The aforementioned story of Zacchaeus is probably my favorite chapter in the book. It’s told from the perspective of Judah, an imagined victim of Zacchaeus’ past fraud who receives back four times what he was cheated out of. Judah is understandably wary of him; he is a professional liar and thief, after all. But the way Bloom narrates the tale, the glory and power of the gospel shine through beautifully.

Zacchaeus explains to Judah that Jesus opened his eyes to see the evil of loving money and the good of loving Jesus. He tells Judah,

But as I sat in my home with Jesus and His disciples, who have nothing–nothing but God–I have never seen happier people in my life! And as Jesus spoke, it was like His words were alive. My heart burned with a longing for God I had never felt before! And with deep shame that I traded Him for money.

Then it hit me like a cedar beam: I’m poor, not rich! They had God; I had a dead idol: money. They were rich; I was no more than a beggar. They were free. But the only doors money ever opened for me led to lonely dungeons. My world, as I had known it, fell apart.”

Then, when Judah’s wife asks what the bag is that Judah’s holding, he tells her,

A tax refund.

A what?

I think we need to go hear Rabbi Jesus.

Rabbi Jesus? Why?

I think we’re poor.

It’s a masterful use of imaginative storytelling to show the power of the gospel, both for Zacchaeus and the genuineness of his repentance, but also of the gospel’s heart-persuasiveness to appeal to those who may think they’re okay.

It’s a great book, especially for devotional and thoughtful reading. I read it far faster than a daily devotional reading, mostly because it was too good to stop.

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