Vince Antonucci came to our church a while back for a leadership retreat and to guest speak. He’s the pastor of Verve Church in Las Vegas, a faith community that would challenge most congregations in our nation’s midsection with their methods and challenges all congregations in our country with their heart. It was a terrific weekend.
Antonucci is also an author, and while he was here I had the good fortune to pick up one of his titles, God for the Rest of Us: Experience Unbelievable Love, Unlimited Hope, and Uncommon Grace.
God for the Rest of Us is an extremely readable book and one of the few that I think is equally suitable for a buttoned-up church goer and a complete non-believer. Full of inspiring stories of how the Gospel has played out in the lives of pimps, prostitutes, atheists, and freak show performers, it sort of reads like THE Gospels. People far from Jesus meet Jesus and decide to follow Jesus. Modern day incarnations of the woman caught in adultery grace each page. It’s inspiring to hear how God has changed lives in tough places.
But this isn’t a book that attempts to tell a bunch of shocking stories and leave it at that. Instead, it uses those narratives to inform all of our narratives. It is just as scandalous for Jesus to love the decades-long church goer as it is for Him to love the Vegas stripper. We are not meant to applaud the life transformation of the person who is far from Christ who comes to know Him, we are meant to identify with that transformation.
It’s not their story, it’s our story. It’s all of our stories.
The invitation is clear: God is for you. He offers a brand of love we don’t often stumble across in our broken world. When we surrender to Him, we get a kind of grace and mercy that isn’t offered by anyone else. We are invited to belong. Antonucci doesn’t answer every question — that’s not what makes this book profound.
What he does is ask all the right questions.
Who is too far gone for Jesus to reach? Are churches allowing themselves to be stretched in order to see life transformation happen? Do modern American Christians grow satisfied with their spiritual lives and forget how radical it is that they are invited to follow Jesus? Who is the rest of us?
God for the Rest of Us makes all of us “the rest of us.” Anyone who doesn’t have it together. Doubters, skeptics, anyone who isn’t sure. The Vegas outcasts and the suburban “in” crowd. We all matter to God, no matter what.
Do yourself a major solid and go buy this inspirational, perspective-challenging book. Antonucci is a more than competent writer (no ghost-writer subbing in for an ill-equipped pastor here), and his ministry comes to life on these pages.
In the end, you’ll see that you have come to life as you realize afresh that God is for you.
And the rest of us, too.