I’ve given up trying to keep on top of the Star Wars and Avengers franchises. I still watch the movies with my son, but I’m incapable of remembering the minor characters and plot details from six movies ago. Even when I enjoy the action on the screen, I feel certain I’m missing something.

When my dental hygienist started attending church recently, I wondered if that’s how she feels. Even for preachers and theologians, it’s a challenge to tie the individual passages and stories of Scripture to the overall plot. What hope is there for her?

Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us is a helpful book both for people who are trying to learn the basics of Christianity and for those who already know the basics but feel disconnected from God. It addresses common questions—like “Does God love me?” or “Is this all there is to life?”—with the story of Scripture, inviting us to reimagine our lives in light of the answers.

“We’re convinced that everything changes when we believe God is glad to be with us,” write the authors, Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw, both of whom are pastors at Vineyard North Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

As A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Most of us seem to believe that God tolerates us, but we have a hard time believing he is truly glad to be with us.

The authors relate. They share stories of their struggles with matters like significance, worthiness, and identity. Cyd describes feeling insignificant as a new mother. Geoff admits that he’s naturally competitive, always measuring himself against others. We read about cats, car accidents, relocations, sibling fights, parental deaths, and more.

The Holsclaws aren’t interested in answering abstract questions. Instead, they want to deal with the shame and disconnection we feel in our relationship with God. The practices, reflections, and exercises that close each chapter help us experience the truths they write instead of just thinking about them.

Does God Really Like Me? looks like a self-help book, but it’s actually a biblical theology book in disguise. The Holsclaws take us on a journey from Genesis to Revelation, exploring the themes of “God with us” and “God through us” in four parts: God’s idols in creation (or what it means to be made in God’s image), God’s house in Israel, God’s body in Jesus Christ, and God’s movement in and through the church. “We’ll show you,” they write, “how God continually demonstrates a desire to be with his people—no matter what we do. And we’ll highlight the ways God always invites people to join him in his unfolding plan to spread new and unending life throughout the entire world.”

The Holsclaws teach key theological principles about humanity, sin, God’s holiness, the gospel, the church, and the future while tracing the story of Scripture around a unified theme. Their book equips us to understand and participate in God’s story as it unfolds around us.

Does God Really Like Me? would help my dental hygienist understand the main theme of Scripture: that God, more than just liking us, longs to dwell with us. It would also introduce her to some solid theology while answering questions I’m sure she’s asked.

But the book is equally valuable for believers who already understand Scripture yet can’t shake the nagging suspicion that God regards them with disappointment. It would especially help someone who is quick to understand God’s judgment but struggles to believe in God’s love.

“Making disciples involves more (but not less) than informing minds or forming habits,” writes theologian Kevin Vanhoozer. “It also involves transforming imaginations, that is, the primary ways they see, think about, and experience life.” In that sense, Does God Really Like Me? could play an important role in reshaping our imaginations as we try to connect our deepest questions, insecurities, and doubts to the story of God’s relentless pursuit of his people.

Don’t read this book just to understand the Bible. Don’t even read it just to answer your questions and doubts. Read it to transform your imagination of what life is about: God’s desire for us to live in his presence, his actions to make this possible, and his plan to bless the world through our kingdom labors. Read it to remind yourself of the relationship you have with your Father and the love, joy, and purpose it secures.

Darryl Dash is pastor of Liberty Grace Church in Toronto and the author of How to Grow: Applying the Gospel to All of Your Life (Moody Publishers).

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Book Title
Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us
Author
Publisher
IVP Books
Release Date
January 21, 2020
Pages
224
Price
10.89
Buy Does God Really Like Me?: Discovering the God Who Wants to Be With Us from Amazon
Issue: