Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

Unstoppable is the second book by Nick Vujicic telling his life story and explaining how with faith, anything is possible. When I first received this book, I was very skeptical. Whenever I hear of someone talking about faith, I usually assume I am going to be left asking the question, "Faith in what?" It somewhat seems cool these days to talk about faith. It is almost as if faith is the means to anything. But for the Christian, the object of faith is what means everything. So, I was very thankful to read these words at the beginning of the book:
"Having faith, beliefs, and convictions is a great thing, but your life is measured by the actions you take based upon them. You can build a great life around those things you believe and have faith in. I've built mine around my belief that I can inspire and bring hope to people facing challenges in their lives. That belief is rooted in my faith in God. I have faith that He put me on this earth to love, inspire, and encourage others and especially to help all who are willing to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I believe that I can never earn my way to heaven, and by faith I accept the gift of forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus" (9-10).
Several times throughout this book, Nick points to faith in Christ as his hope. While I think the overall tone of the book does not promote that thought, I am at least thankful that he took several places to say it. 

His Story
I am sure you can tell from the picture on the front cover, Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs. But that has not stopped him from traveling the world. It has not stopped him from helping countless people who feel lost and depressed with their life. It has not stopped him from achieving things he has wanted to achieve. His message is one of hope. Much of his story has to do with overcoming being bullied. He shares openly his story of being mocked as a child.

As I read the book, my heart broke for this young man. I was overwhelmed by his courage to do so much more than many kids who have arms and legs. He refused to allow his situation in life to stop him from achieving what he has desired to achieve. If I could tap into his spirit and will, his desire to overcome, and inject it into many people I know, I would. He is unstoppable.

While he talks about his life in this book, much of it has to do with stories of people he has encountered that have touched his life. Every chapter contains several stories of people who have overcome their situation in life. If you are looking for a book that recounts the lives of people who have overcome amazing odds, this might be the book for you.

My Concerns
Nick talks in the book about his faith in Christ. But he doesn't seem to display that message as the only hope for others. In one chapter, he continually talked about having to accept himself, or having to love himself before anyone would love him. This is a very old notion that does not flow out of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It flows out of a human gospel. The gospel says that our self-worth is found only when we realize how despicable we are. It is only when we realize our insignificance that we find our significance. Our self-worth is found in the fact that Jesus died for us even though we were nothing.

The book is filled with several Christian cliche's, which always turns me off. For instance, he writes about "letting go and letting God. (181). But one thing that simply did not sit well with me was his take on happiness. He says,
"You and I should not live with the expectations that happiness will come some day after we accomplish some goal or acquire some thing. Happiness should be available to you in each moment, and the way to access it is to live in balance spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically" (226). 
He is arguing that it is not about some great achievement in life that brings happiness. But that we can live all of our life with happiness if we live in balance spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I honestly do not even know what that means. That sound so much different than the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5. I suppose spiritually has to do with your relationship to Christ, but it just seems to me that there needs to be more there. There needs to be more explanation as to how Christ has gotten him through everything he has gone through.

While he does offer a few instances where he shares that his hope is the death of Jesus, the book seemed void of overly expressing the need of others to do that as well. Maybe that was purposeful in order to appeal to a wider audience. I am thankful he at least put it in there, but it felt empty. It seemed like Christianity lite to me. But then again, maybe a pastor is not the intended audience of this book. Maybe it is the young adult who has always struggled with self-worth and has never had anyone love them. They might get more out of it. And I pray that they see the small threads of the gospel throughout it. I hope they are not hidden as they appeared to be to me.

The book will be released on October 2, 2012.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic from Waterbrook Press. The page numbers listed are from the advanced reader copy, not the final edited copy of the book.

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