David Gregory is the New York Times Bestseller author of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger. In that book, the main character receives an unusual invitation. It is unsigned and the inviter has invited himself to the character’s home for dinner.
The character prepares his home for a visit for an unknown stranger, wondering what person of great importance has chosen his home to visit.
The perfect stranger is revealed to be Jesus.
In Gregory’s new book, Open, a young woman named Emma receives a similar, unsigned invitation. Her invitation is not to dinner. The invitation reads, “For a real adventure with Jesus, go through the nearest open door.” Emma’s curiosity recalls for the reader young Lucy’s innocence in walking through the wardrobe into Narnia. Emma, a bit more broken than Lucy, is transported through time to Jesus’ day.
As a young adult living in Dallas, Emma seems to be on the margins of faith. She believes in Christ, but is not actively engaging her spirituality. A recent break-up has sparked a renewed interest, though. This break-up with her boyfriend Jason plays a little much into the plot for me. Too much of Emma’s spiritual “dilemma” is associated with her relationship with Jason.
It begs the question: “Would the same story be told if Jason was the main character?
Gregory’s Jesus is exactly what you might expect. He is calm, cool, and direct, all while keeping a sense of humor. Emma gets to tag along with Jesus through many of the significant ministry moments, mostly gleaned from the Gospel of John. Emma is there when Jesus feeds the multitude, washes the disciples’ feet, visits with Martha and Mary, and raises Lazarus from the dead.
It seems that Jesus’ main point in inviting Emma on this journey, is to remind her to trust, forgive, and abide in Christ. There are some useful illustrations for the preacher or teacher who wants to encourage a congregation to abide in Christ first, abide in the Church second.
This is little book is a good read and does not take long to read. While I think it would be great for a new Christian or someone who has been on the margins, I caution too much stake being put in this little book. Rather, let this book be in conversation with Sunday worship, a small group, and a devotional life.
You can purchase your own copy by clicking on the image below:
Thanks to Tyndale publishers for an advance review copy in exchange for this review.