In the opening pages of Mike Glenn’s book The Gospel of Yes, he quotes Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon Days: “Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted if you had known.” It perfectly captures Glenn’s proposal here with one caveat: it’s not luck we’re after, but God.
Glenn states that Jesus’ life was one of “yes” the whole way to the cross, when he said “yes” to what God wanted him to do (die for our sins). While many Christians have been raised to believe that their life is lived in opposition, like following the Ten Commandments (don’t do x, y, and z), Glenn argues that a life lived freely in the Spirit would result in our experiencing the joy of God, even in the midst of hardship.
The argument that Glenn lays out is countercultural to much of what I’ve experienced in the Christian churches I’ve attended and worked in for most of my life. Recognizing that steering clear of “bad” things doesn’t mean we’re steering toward or “immersing” ourselves in godly things certainly flies in the face of “we don’t dance, drink, or chew, or date girls who do.” Glenn wants us to consider what it would look like if instead we served, shared, and worshipped, and dated girls who did, too. (Not specifically, but it’s an example of the flip in perspective).
From a recognition of our identity and the story of God’s work in the world, we’re moved toward examining “yes” from the perspective of our calling, our relationships, our stewardship, and more. Glenn goes through the “yes” categories, which too often have been defined by “no”—by the limitations of our weaknesses or fears. And what he highlights is that we can appreciate our lives today, if we would recognize that God’s plan for us isn’t just heavenly, but right now.
Uplifting, empowering, and well-written, Glenn’s book allows us to free up our perspective, and recognize that what many people of faith have been running around fearing is a misconception about God and faith. It’s not a gospel of prosperity, a pie-in-the-sky gospel of wealth, but it’s a reminder that ultimately, God takes joy in us, and hopes we’ll take joy in God, too.