I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green in two days.
If you click on the link, you’ll notice over 750 people have reviewed this book on Amazon, with almost 700 of them being 5 stars.
Why is this book resonating with so many people?
It’s a fairly typical story. In fact, I described it to my wife as a yound adult fiction version of “Nicholas-Sparks-A-Walk-To-Remember” type of book. It involves the story of two 16 year old cancer patients, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters. And it follows their journey as they face the inevitability of death, falling in love, loving their parents, and the worlds around them.
But what I think resonates so much with people – including myself – is the way these two face reality. They don’t expect to survive. They don’t expect to defeat death. They don’t expect to be healed because they are young, because they are good people, because they desreve it. They have stared down the pain, the unfairness of it all, and faced reality.
Which is why this book strikes a chord with people. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s about facing reality.
The problem with much of our “Christian” message is that we offer a veneer – a shallow, surfacy way of looking at reality. We say things like “God has a plan.” Or “It will get better.” Or “Just keep praying.” Or “If you obey God, He will bless you.”
While those offerings aren’t necessarily untrue or completely unhelpful, the problem is that they force people to brush away reality and not really face the death monster and the suckiness of it all.
In order to offer a complete message, we must teach people to face reality. To embrace the world as it is. To call a thing what it is.
People want to know how to do this. They don’t want a veneer, especially when they realize the message they receive is exactly that – a veneer. They want to live like Augustus and Hazel, who didn’t brush the pain and death aside, and instead, slobbered through it all, yelling, biting, and facing it. Augustus and Hazel weren’t Christians. They didn’t even believe in an afterlife. But there is much, as followers of Christ, that we can learn fom them.
Face reality. Stare it down. And then live in the midst of it all, searching, seeking, embracing the world as it comes. The difference for followers of Christ? Through the fog, the pain, the cancer, the heartache, we can grasp for the absurdity of Christ on the cross, the ultimate place of suffering, our only hope of glory.