Written by Sawyer Bullock
When I approached this book, I did so with an underlying taste of, shall we say, skepticism or cynicism. “Love” has unfortunately become a cheapened word in Western culture, so when a book on the subject is celebrated highly across the board, I tend to set my expectations low and prepare for 200 pages of self-help platitudes sprinkled with some verses.
Safe to say, I was wrong. Very wrong.
Everybody Always explores what it means to love people like Jesus does: without limits or regard for comfort; the type of lifestyle which is both the antithesis and antidote to contemporary self-absorption and ecclesial stagnation.
Goff draws us in and shows us Jesus. It’s beautiful, true and good—but far from comfortable. We see the painful gap between who we are and who we should be. Yet, in this moment of dissonance, we are not condemned but called to join in the celebration.
The book is structured thus: most chapters are 10 pages and revolve around a story from Bob’s life. These sermon-illustration-worthy stories contain three woven themes regarding the Christian life: knowing who we are, knowing what we must do, and then knowing how to do it.
Anecdotes range from the mundane to the fantastic: whether buying balloons to overcoming tragedy; loving airport staff or battling the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda, the reader is shown the culture conquering and Christ-exalting power of the gospel, for “when joy is a habit, love is a reflex.”
It would be a shame if these stories only gave motivation which would be soon undercut by the challenges of putting this into practice. How am I supposed to be loving when I don’t know how I’m supposed to be living?
Several chapters focus on this very topic of acting and discerning God’s purpose for us. As Goff puts it, practice becomes purpose and purpose becomes from identity. He writes, “Love isn’t something we fall into; it’s someone we become.”
There is a danger in accusing this book of anti-intellectualism due to its emphasis on practicality, or perhaps that it focuses too much on good works and not enough on faith. If so, the criticisms would reveal confusion. Bob does take his share of jabs, but they appear to be speaking out against overthinking and the dangers of rationalizing our protection of comfort. Biblically, we are called to be good stewards of God’s gifts, but “there’s a difference between good judgement and living in judgement.” There is a danger in service without love: “Loving people means caring without an agenda…people aren’t projects, people are people.”
Everybody Always is simple, but not easy. It is highly recommended for all who wish to take another step forward in following the example of Jesus and responding to the immense grace that we have been shown.
As Basil Mitchell puts it, “It is through his grace that in spite of our weakness and our limitations, we are able to love and be loved in that way.”