The most hopeful book I have read in a long while is “Blue Ocean Faith” by Dave Schmelzer. It is fresh air for those tired of today’s self-righteous religion dominated by liberal/conservative antagonisms. And it is as life-giving as the talk my parents gave me at seventeen—that no matter what I encountered in life or what mistakes I made I could always count on God’s astoundingly unconditional acceptance and love. Sixty years later I know they were right—despite my failings I have (almost) never felt alone.
I think we are in a time of religious change as significant as when God told Peter and Paul to reach out to us heathen. A recent Atlantic article described today’s Christianity as the vestige of a religious tradition that no longer has the living Jesus at the center. This may be why most young adults reject evangelical culture. But Blue Ocean faith opens a whole new level of access and depth for our personal experience of God. Like old Abraham’s journey, it facilitates our experience of walking one day at a time into an unknown future, secure in our enjoyment of companionship with the living God.
This Jesus is a living alternative to the debates of today—an actual Third Way. Most churches focus on drawing lines between good people and bad people and good behavior and bad behavior. They are better at excluding people than gathering people in. They get uncomfortably close to the attitudes Jesus condemned, as if we were intended by correct opinions and actions to make ourselves acceptable. Significantly, most of their arguments never mention Jesus, his teachings, or his example.
But Jesus accepts with outrageous love the broken ones like me who do not measure up. This gives me the freedom and potential of the childlike hope that first drew me to him so many years ago. Blue Ocean Faith is not a simple “how-to” book. As one reviewer said, “it’s a rock-your-whole-world-and-everything-you-thought-you-knew sort of book.”
The six distinctives of Blue Ocean are:
1. Our primary framework is SOLUS JESUS.
2. Our primary metaphor is CENTERED-SET.
3. Our approach to spiritual development is CHILDLIKE FAITH
4. Our approach to controversial issues is THIRD WAY.
5. Our approach to other churches is ECUMENICAL.
6. Our approach to secular culture is JOYFUL ENGAGEMENT.
Give yourself a present and buy “Blue Ocean Faith”. Soak in God’s invitation to an open-hearted, helpful walk together through your life.