“BUTTERWORTH GETS HIS LIFE TOGETHER”
But it falls apart before he can show his friends
By: Bill Butterworth, Multnomah Books, 1996
This book can repudiate and perhaps teach those who believe Christianity is best verified by one victory piled upon another.
The foundational principle of Free Grace is that faith alone in Christ alone is what is necessary for eternal life. A correlating but not contradicting principle is that rewards are based upon deeds done for the Lord. The highest reward, ruling in the kingdom, has an even higher requirement.
Getting organized so we can be effective for the Lord involves getting our life together. Thus we find Bill Butterworth in a seemingly never-ending assortment of pitfalls apparently designed to hinder him as he “GETS HIS LIFE TOGETHER”. The value of this book does not lie in laughing at Bill as her pokes fun at himself. It lies in seeing ourselves struggle to “GET OUR LIVES TOGETHER”.
As we have all experienced, any change comes with reluctance. We don’t like to leave our comfort zones. Therefore, in order to get him to a retreat to teach him to get his life together, Bill has to be trapped into going by a church staff member.
Bill is convinced that if he could emulate his friend Tom, he truly would have his life together. Tom and another friend, Edmond join him on the ride to the retreat. Both
Tom and Edmond are composite characters drawn from real friends of Bill’s. The exaggeration of Tom’s qualities and Edmond’s shortcomings are meant to show us that no man is perfect, even Tom.
If you haven’t caught on by now that this is a work of fiction, you will be introduced to Kenny, the camp speaker. He is teaching on “GETTING YOUR LIFE
TOGETHER” and Kenny seems to actually have his together. He is popular in church and secular circles. He is in good health apparently because of good diet and exercise, has great looks, both bodily and sartorially. Therefore, the wisdom of the camp leaders says is the qualified person to bring the theme.
Lets digress from the story in order to remind ourselves that presenting this in exaggerated fictional form helps to take the sting out of seeing ourselves in Butterworth.
His attempts at physical, spiritual and mental betterment are mirrors in which we can see ourselves.
In the physical realm, the laughter comes readily as we accompany Bill while he gets a full physical complete with the inherent humiliations, while he joins a health club, and in his attempt to jog with an accountability group.
In the spiritual realm, Bill’s renewed commitment to a QUIET TIME reinforced by his accountability group has us cheering for Bill.
His attempt to mental improvement is exemplified by his desire to help his kids with their homework.
There are some theological circles that would actually exclude Bill from heaven simply based on his non-abstinence from coffee. It’s a good thing coffee doesn’t have to be forsaken for admittance to heaven or a lot of people would be in trouble.
However, the possibility of getting our lives together in order to glorify God is given hope in this fictional account of a real person and his misadventures.
This is light reading that will help you laugh at yourself, but at the same time find starting points for GETTING YOUR LIFE TOGETHER.