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A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Daily Archive: April 8, 2020



April 2020



Book Conversation #3: J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life by Paul Miller

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71SZ-b7CKsL._AC_UY436_QL65_ML3_Glad to be back for our weekly post on the J-Curve by Paul Miller. Our reading target for this week was chapters 14-23. My effort below will be to list a number of bullet point themes from this large section of reading. I would encourage you to do the same and feel free to post to the blog if you have comments or questions.

In the J-Curve, Paul Miller has given a deliberate effort to connect the believer, through our union with Jesus Christ, into a hope-filled journey as we live by faith in “the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us.” (Galatians 2:20)  The chapters this week contain some helpful teaching as we process the various challenges of life. Specifically, as followers of Christ how are we to think and respond when trials and suffering inevitably confront us.

Chapter 14- Miller provides a wonderful illustration about “Kayla” who served in a special needs camp at her own expenses and was brought into a controversy at the camp that was very painful. Miller with great precision links Kayla’s suffering to the descent of Jesus through the incarnation.

Miller writes, the Apostle “Paul’s imagination was so captivated by Jesus’ descent into love that he created a work of art, a poem. His poem tells the story of Jesus, the original J-Curve, and then applies it to our lives.”  Of course, Miller was referring to the familiar passage in Philippians 2:5-11, which he refers to as “The Descent of Love.”

Kayla’s suffering was “relatively mild,” but, I believe Miller’s conclusion is right for many in the church, “it’s in small incidents like this, when we’ve tried to do our best and then everything goes south, that we struggle to live out our faith.  Often, the accumulated slights of low-level suffering operate like a hidden cancer, souring our relationships and suffocating our soul. Knowing the patterns of the love J-Curve is helpful, even liberating.”

This observation is a wake-up call for slumbering saints that somehow we can get through life and escape suffering. Miller notes, “Even small acts of love…increase the possibility of suffering…our control decreases…suffering chooses us.” We are called to follow in the marks of Christ’s wounded feet.  Miller concludes, “One of Scripture’s most basic rules is what happens to Jesus, happens to us.” (more…)