“The Cure” by Lynch, McNicol, and Thrall

You come to a fork in the road and find a signpost. The sign pointing left says, “Pleasing God;” the sign pointing right says, “Trusting God.” Which do you choose?

This is the choice each of us faces every day. Perhaps you think it’s a mad choice – like choosing between your heart and your lungs – but it’s not. It is the choice between life and death, between sacrifice and mercy, between the manmade religion of good intentions and the divine realm of God’s grace.

If you think of life primarily in terms of “pleasing God,” then you may have bought into a carnal Christianity that promotes mask-wearing and sin-management. Chances are you’ll be a miserable phony incapable of truly loving and being loved. And you may need to read The Cure, by John Lynch, Bruce McNicol and Bill Thrall.

The Cure is a brilliant little book. It’s the story of man who must choose between the Room of Good Intentions and the Room of Grace. These two rooms represent two ways of living – living from a desire to please God versus living by faith in God’s love and grace.

After a false start the man in the story makes the right choice but soon finds grace too much to bear. He returns to the wrong room. Yup, he decides he would rather be with the phonies that with the Real People in the Church of Grace.

This, for me, is what makes The Cure an intriguing and insightful read. Why would he do that?! Why would anyone walk away from grace?

Why do some reject grace?

Many of us within the grace community think that if people just saw the undiluted goodness of God – if they just heard the true gospel – they would all come flooding out of dead religion. And many do. But some don’t stay. They leave the open fields of grace and return to the hamster-wheel of huffing, puffing piety. Think of the Galatians. They heard the gospel from none other than the apostle of grace himself, yet were seduced into carnal religion.

Why does this happen? It can happen because of the false stories we tell ourselves. As Lynch et al. explain:

The stories we tell ourselves can run deep. It’s one thing to have a profound experience, and it’s quite another to kill a lie that’s served you a long time. Especially a lie you’ve used to cope. Until you see God right you’ll keep going back (to the Room of Good Intentions)… There are two gods: the one we see through our shame, and the One who actually is. (p.42)

Shame is a killer. It can really mess up your understanding of grace. If your shame causes you to hide in the bushes when grace comes calling, you may miss it. Tragically, if you are more conscious of your badness than God’s goodness you won’t receive the grace he offers you. This is a strength of The Cure. It reveals how sin and shame interact to keep us in the dark. In contrast to the sin-managing gimmicks offered by flesh-powered religion, this book exposes some of the distortions we have about God that hinder us from receiving grace.

Lest you get the wrong idea, this book is not about changing who I was into who I should be. You were changed once and for all when you were made new, when you were born again. This book is about maturing into who I already am. It’s about growing into your Christ-given identity and working out the salvation that is already within you.

Okay, so how do we do that?

According to the authors of The Cure, it begins by recognizing who we are in Christ – we are saints, righteous and forgiven. But that’s just the start. To grow we need to look for opportunities to receive and give the Father’s love.

The knowledge we are loved will never peel away our masks or heal our wounds. “Knowing about love” and “experiencing love” are not the same (p. 90). It’s one thing to read 1 Corinthians 13; it’s another to live it and enjoy it and share it with others.

This is why we need the church. It is only in real relationships with real people that we have the opportunity to live real lives – the kinds of lives Christ came to give us:

God wants us to live authentically – fragile believers, learning to trust him and each other in relationships intent on love. He wants us out of hiding, acknowledging each other without performance or quotas. He wants us to experience his power healing us as he releases us into a life worth living. This is the Church. This is the Church in the Room of grace! (p.89)

As Ralph Harris writes about in his book God’s Astounding Opinion of You, there is a nobility to the authentic Christian life that makes the pursuit of lesser worldly pleasures trivial in comparison. We were born for this. We were born to receive and share our Father’s divine love. Our needs aren’t weaknesses; they’re opportunities to receive the love of God.

The nobility of real life

Looking back on my own four decades as a Christian, I can say that the periods where I have grown the fastest have been those where I found myself among a small circle of trusted friends whose love for me gave me the confidence to step out from behind the masks I wore. They didn’t try to change me but as a result of the grace I received from them, I changed. I began to enjoy the freedom that had been mine from the moment I said Yes to Jesus.

Together, my friends and I ran hard after the life that is only found in Christ and looked for creative ways to express that life to others. Dare I say, we began to live out our destiny, and it was exhilarating. It still is.

If this sort of life sounds good to you and you want to know how to get a handle on it, then I recommend The Cure along with Ralph’s book. They are both excellent. Two other good books which also come to mind are The Birthright and So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore? In fairness, none of these books will change the world. But they all have the potential to change the church. And this is what a loveless and shame-ridden world desperately needs to see – a changed church.

The world doesn’t need a church characterized by judgment and hatred. What creation longs for is a revelation of the mature, full-grown sons of God. What the world needs to see is the light of the gospel shining through a church of authentic saints – people like you and me who are walking in radical love and fulfilling their God-given destiny. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine a future where a sick and dying world receives the love and healing of Jesus through the church – where the church is so effective at revealing the gospel of God’s grace that entire nations are saved in a day? (Why not?) I’m not exactly sure what that might look like but I know it is the immediate future I long for.

And that’s why The Cure is such an important book. It’ll change you… and then you’ll change the world.

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Related links:
- Son, servant, or friend of God?
- Son or sinner – what are you confessing?
- see all E2R’s book reviews here

Comments

  1. David Marshall says:

    Odd to see that this your most recent post and I’ve had this book sitting in my shelf for a few weeks without knowing what it was about! My friend sent it to me along with some other books and a copy of the Mirror Translation. Needless to say, I will dig into this once I’m done with my huge NT Wright book report.

  2. NICHOLAS LAMBERT says:

    Be sure to read “whatever happened to the Good News?” By Niall Walshe! God used this to confirm so much that He was teaching us about grace. It is the best Christian book I have ever read and talks about unadulterated Grace! On the basis of the truth of greace we cannot attend church, we are The Church. Nick Lambert.

    • Love's Bird says:

      What love is this?!? “We cannot attend church, we are the church.” Jesus said His Holy Spirit is just like the wind in that you can’t tell where it comes from or where it will go next. He – WE – are THAT free!!! Love loves, wherever it goes, wherever it is. It is free and for all. How beautifully you have said it, Nicholas!

  3. perfect timing (b/c God has no other kind!)… my friend and i were talking yesterday about these very same questions…
    thanks! :)

  4. Love's Bird says:

    What a timely post – the Holy Spirit works miracles all the time!

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the freedom Jesus died to bring me into!

    The Holy Spirit has simply and clearly confirmed through your post what the He has been showing me recently regarding some decidedly anti-Christ and anti-Christian statements and accusations made, astoundingly, by a member of an online email group of Christians I have been corresponding with. It is disconcerting to see and, as others in the group commend and support this person (through silence or responses), it becomes even moreso. I continue to contribute to this group because of the duty we have, as Christians, to love each other and not forsake coming together.

    Then – you said it: “killing lies”. Yes. Make no mistake. Those in Christ who recognize and acknowledge the fullness of His person – the Son of God’s love, no less – and are willing to trust that HE IS GOOD and that HE IS FOR THEM (as demonstrated throughout and by His suffering and death) are fierce as Jesus was, so in love with the life He died to bring us are we! Made for elevation, we are as eagles, loving the fresh, bracing strength of the wind currents, loving the testing and building of our strength in them. As our breath mingles intimately with that life-giving breath of God, we soar. We cannot live as pigeons, content eating scraps on the ground or parakeets, content to sit, secure, behind bars.

    True love supernaturally flows out of the Truth that is Christ – the Sun of righteousness – and not out of our sense of duty or obligation to demonstrate it. And that kind of love is so bright, it supernaturally scares bugs into retreat and burns up lies! We don’t do it; the power of God in us does. We don’t shrink from it but run toward it – run IN it, FLY in it, glorious and free! Halellujah!

    AMAZING GRACE, indeed. Our Father God is so good and His love keeps on shining and shining. Who can refuse or hide from such fierce, undying love? Oh, our Lord and King – come! Maranatha!

  5. Hi Paul :-) Thanks for sharing this book review! I am really enjoying this book, but am still finding things in it which make me bristle a bit, for example when the authors say: ‘Jesus waits for our repentance before he forgives us….When we repent of our sins against God and ask for his forgiveness, then, and only then does he forgive us and reconcile us to Himself. When we repent, Jesus grants us forgiveness for our sake.” What are your thoughts on this? Thanks :-) Jemma

    • Ha – I must’ve missed that bit. What page is it?

      It’s not uncommon to find little bits of theology that stick up like nails even in the very best books. I tend to see right past them if the book is largely on a good track, and I think The Cure is.

    • oooh i was the same way when i read that yesterday! (‘bristle’ is a good way to describe it) in fact, when I read it over again to make sure that is what the author wrote, i had to highlight it and write a note with about 6 verses that proved otherwise! lol

      it’s in chapter 5, under “I tell the offender I have forgiven him when he repents for his sake” (fifth paragraph) ;)

      • Oh yes, I remember that bit now. Yes, I disagree with the statement as it stands and I thought the “Father forgive them bit” on the cross was a bit furry. The authors equate forgiveness with salvation and since everyone isn’t saved, everyone can’t be forgiven. It’s a logical conclusion drawn from an incorrect premise. Nor does it fit with their own example. We forgive those who offend us for our sakes – so we don’t get bitter and twisted. True! But if we forgive them, then guess what, they are forgiven! They may not know it, they may not receive it, but the fact of the matter is they are forgiven. From our side, the issue is settled.

        To say Jesus waits before he forgives us is to suggest Jesus is holding onto our sins and offenses, and he is not. If neither God the Father nor God the Holy Spirit remembers our sins no more, you can be sure that neither does God the Son!

        I fully grasp the point that telling an unrepentant person they are forgiven can be like throwing pearls before swine. I’m reminded of the movie Warrior where the old brother told the younger brother he had forgiven him years ago. That revelation did not go down well with the younger brother – he wasn’t interested in forgiveness. Nevertheless, it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance and God’s goodness is most clearly sin in the death and resurrection of Jesus – it’s seen in the cross where the Lamb of God carried the sins of the world.

        I guess I wasn’t too troubled the first time I read this because I agree with the larger point being made, that the restoration of relationship is so much more than conflict resolution and that we need to look to God to heal our wounded hearts and not the offender. That is an excellent insight.

      • i agree – the rest of what the authors write about contradicts that one paragraph. they explain how it is important for us to forgive others for our own sake… and then advise us to allow the person who committed the offense to come to us with repentance, for HIS own sake. and this is exactly what God has done – He forgave us for His own sake, but then allows us to come to Him with repentance for OUR own sake.

        “Grace always invites rather than demands reconciliation.” so true. God has invited us into relationship with Himself through Christ – and that is why we are free to chose to believe or not believe…

        the authors state that there is a significant difference between reconciliation and conflict resolution in our relationships with each other. so maybe it is conflict resolution that is hindering people from experiencing a relationship with God? conflict resolution has been dealt with (the conflict was sin) and is no longer the problem – once we understand that Jesus took care of that at the cross… however, if believers don’t understand this and are confessing sins that have already been forgiven, do you think that perhaps they are stuck in conflict resolution with God…? and probably haven’t experienced reconciliation…?

  6. I’ve been thinking about this book recently, and especially today. I keep recalling the bit about “confessing our sins to one another” and “bringing them out into the light” to break the stronghold and shame they can have over us.
    I just wanna take that medicine today and say i really need some prayer. I’ve been struggling a lot with pornography recently, and i just wanna be free of it. One big issue i have is trying to understand how i can be a saint who desires to watch this kind of stuff, or if the desire really doesn’t originate in me, then how i can successfully overcome temptation when the desire does come.
    All and any prayers would be so great, and feedback from anyone would be fantastic :-)

    • Hey John,
      What you’re going through is a common experience for many people. I would love to have a face-to-face chat with you but that’s not possible at present. So I’m afraid I’m going to risk being glib by pasting a link to this post and leaving you in the Lord’s capable hands. But let me leave you with this: You can’t control what you think, but you can choose what you believe.

  7. Heyy,
    No problem at all, his hands are pretty capable so I’ll keep trusting and living out of who i am.
    Thanks, I think I’ll ponder on that :-)
    Take care..have a good rest of your week!

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