Bolted into a socket in front of the platform of the Presbyterian Church of Old Greenwich, Connecticut stands a 5-foot bulky wooden cross. It’s intrusive. The preacher has to step down from the platform and walk around it before the congregation can see him. The message is clear: this church wants the cross to get in the way; they want it to be front and center; they want it to intrude into our lives.
John Fisher introduces his book by describing this intrusive cross. He does so to start us thinking about how often in modern day Christianity “the most important part of the gospel has been overlooked.” He sorrows that “the cross has faded away to the back wall of the church,” unnoticed and ignored. Listen to his words: “The hill was far away to begin with; now it is so far away that the old rugged cross tends to be forgotten.” He’s writing with purpose: he wants “to bring the cross back into center stage in history and in the lives of Christians.” He desires that the cross be intrusive in our lives.
His chapter-by-chapter study questions draw us to interact personally and frequently with the impact of the cross. He asks us questions like:
- What is the cross “in the way of” in your life?
- Unlike what he did for Abraham [Genesis 22:1-19], God made no substitute for his son. What does this tell you about the nature of God?
- Why do we always seem to resist such a wonderful gift as the grace of God?
- Why is there nothing to fear at the cross?
- What do you cherish about the cross?
On a Hill Too Far Away divides into two parts. Part 1 deals with the role of the cross in the gospel. Part 2 deals with the role of the cross in the daily life of a believer. We get first a foundation, then an application. Good stuff.
This book is a gem. Challenging. Thought provoking. Important. Helpful both for individual pondering and for group discussion. My recommendation? Read this book.
On a Hill Too Far Away (by John Fischer)
[Bethany House, 1994, 2001]
Book Review by Lynne Fox, © 2015