Look and Live by Papa“We worship our way into sin. We must worship our way out.” (14) It is a long established belief of most religions that whoever one believes their creator to be, that creator created their creatures to worship. Christianity believes no less. Worship is part of the warp and woof of humanity. We cannot not worship. Since we are always worshiping, the only thing we need to concern ourselves with is to what, or whom, our worship is being given to.

For Christians, our worship and affections are to be directed towards God in Christ. Anything less is idolatry. It is towards this goal that, recording artist and worship leader, Matt Papa has written Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ (Bethany House, 2014). Matt says, “My goal is to help you overcome idolatry and certain sadness by pointing you to the all-satisfying, sin-destroying glory of Jesus.” (15)

Overview

Look and Live has several features that make it stand out.

First, Matt writes with an open heart as he opens himself up to his readers by sharing some of the most deeply destroying sins in his life. From the opening pages, Matt opens up about his long time struggle with sexual sin. This is no easy task for a well-known music artist. Matt shares the struggles of his own battle against idolatry as a means of exemplifying how one can practice what he is preaching in his book. He admits

I would love to tell you that today I stand ‘cured’ of these things, but I’m not. I have been radically changed, and these wounds of mine, these diseases that I thought might bury me, have been tremendously healed. But I’m not ‘fixed.’ I’m still longing for the cure – that final blessed remedy that happily waits in one place – the glory on His face. Until then its all out war. (21)

Second, Papa gets what it takes to turn from idolatry to worship of God. As the title indicates, the freedom of worshiping Christ is accomplished by looking to Jesus so that we can live with Jesus – both in this life, and the next. In explaining his continuing journey from idolatry to worship of Christ, Matt describes the process as an exchange. “The change came, but only by experiencing a greater Thrill. It was by beholding a greater Beauty. God.” (22) This exchange happens when we see the glory of God in Christ over against the things our hearts wander after. What happens, Papa explains, in idolatry is glory exchanged from God to the idols of our hearts. “We have all seen glory, and exchanged it. Betrayed it. We have all seen the dazzling silver of His excellence, and sadly, we have misaimed it.” (61)

It is glory that Papa wants the readers to clearly understand, lest the point of the book is lost. After distinguishing between glory-within (a quality that someone or something possesses) and glory-given (the response of someone to something or someone that possesses glory-within), Papa hones in on glory-within. It is here that the book takes it focus. Idolatry is the worshiping of the reflection of glory in things and people rather than the source of that glory in Christ.

Third, Papa understands how to read Scripture which serves him in defining glory and working it throughout the book. Recognizing that glory is used in Scripture to describe more than just God, Papa seeks to draw the reader into Scripture’s use of the word in its varied contexts. Essentially, while all things God has created reflect, to a degree, the glory of God, God Himself possesses the glory those things reflect. This is of course most clearly seen in Christ. This is glory-within. Christ possesses the glory of the Godhead and as such His creatures are to worship Him – alone. While is can be an act of worship to enjoy the reflection of God’s glory in His creation, it is not an end in itself. The glory we see in God’s creation is that of “scattered beams.” Papa explains, “When we merely look at creation, we are bored. We are disappointed. It is dim. But when we look along creation to its Source, it becomes exponentially brighter.” (142)

Fourth, if we are to look to Christ, because He possesses glory, then through what do we look to Him to see that glory? The answer to this question is what Papa is building up to through the entire book. Simply enough, we are to look to Scripture and prayer (among other spiritual disciplines) in order to behold and confront the glory of Christ into which we grow from faith to faith.

It is in the final chapter, Show Me Your Glory, that Papa brings home what he has been working towards all along. Christ only walked the earth for a little over 30 years. Then He left. Though He was gone physically, He did not leave us without Himself. What He left us with of Himself can be found in the pages of inspired Scripture. It is in Scripture that we see the glory of God in Christ. It is in reading it that the Spirit of God illumines our hearts and minds to the glory of Christ revealed in it.

While we may read the Bible for many reasons, and asks many questions of the Bible as we read it, the most important question Papa wants us to consider is, “Where is the glory?” (229)

Conclusion

When I agreed to read this book I was not sure what I would get. I am typically skeptical of books that tend to speak to the spiritual aspect of the Christian life because too many of them try to interpret Scripture in light of their experience in a way that is unnatural. Look and Live is far from that. Though Papa weaves in his personal battles with sin, He allows Scripture to interpret his experience and shape his response to it. When I read the line I quoted at the beginning of this review I knew this was going to be a good book – no, a great book.

Papa gets glory and you need to get this book. Papa’s writing is engaging, honest, poetical, musical, biblically sound, and on target. He is well read in Scripture and wide array of Christianities best thinkers like Jonathan Edwards and C.S. Lewis. This book will easily make my top ten books for the year!

You can purchase this book from Bethany House or Amazon.

I received this book for free from Bethany House for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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