I received an advance reader’s edition uncorrected proof in advance of publication in exchange for an honest review.
Most people have the desire to be known and be somebody. Our society celebrates those who are able to produce an audience. The holy grail of our culture is to be known. This desire gets played out in the social media scene with the fixation on collecting friends and followers. We act like being known, or being “somebody,” will give us the significance we desire.
The author of Embracing Obscurity argues that the way of the culture does not reflect the way of Jesus. This book, by an anonymous author, calls followers of Jesus to imitate the way of Jesus by embracing obscurity and humility. A book on obscurity seems out of place in a world that applauds celebrity and leaders whether those leaders are secular or Church related. I am glad the author had the courage to create this work because it is indeed a fresh wind of the spirit.
Through an introduction and ten chapters the author outlines why obscurity is important to one’s spiritual life and how obscurity and humility emulate the life and character of Jesus. Chapters explore the life of Jesus, significance, true success, servanthood, suffering, the mystery, the spotlight, and hope.Through focusing on Philippians 2, the author uses Jesus as the prime example of one who, though great, became a servant and was obedient even to death.
The book maintains that significance is not gained through celebrity or followers, but embracing the one who humbled himself. Our significance is found in the one who loves us and died for us.
Overall, the book makes a strong case for embracing humility and obscurity. Yet, I feel the author weakened the argument in a couple of areas. This was evident to me in one of the final chapters where the author asserts that embracing obscurity now helps one gain more rewards later (in heaven). However, embracing obscurity now for a payoff later seems to be the very motivation the author discourages. My concern may only be nitpicking, but I wish the author would have made the case to choose humility because of one’s love of Jesus rather than one’s hope to have rewards later.
I also would have liked to see more material from the spiritual classics. The spiritual masters speak strongly to the importance of humility in one’s life and could have been a wealth of inspiration and insight. I felt the author had a few “go to” authors who, while good, were mostly recent. Ignoring the rich history of the church in regards to this topic, I feel, leaves the book with a weaker foundation.
It is time for followers of Jesus to imitate Jesus by embracing humility and obscurity. I welcome this book and would encourage anyone to take time to read it, answer the discussion questions, reflect upon one’s own sense of significance, and choose to embrace obscurity.