“Cast of Characters: Common People in the Hands of an Uncommon God”

Cast of Characters is one of Max Lucado’s newest contributions to the “Christian Life” genre. Mr Lucado sets out to dig past the biblical narrative of 24 different individuals throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Cast consists of the following well-known and lesser-known biblical characters: Joseph (the N.T. one), Matthew, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet, Mephibosheth, the Samaritan Woman, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Abigail, the paralyzed man, John, Paul, the two criminals, Moses, Joseph (the O.T. one), David, Esther, Job, Nicodemus, Jairus, the rich young ruler, Sarah, Peter, and Paul.

As we stop to view vignettes in the lives of these individuals, Mr Lucado draws out principles for Christian living – using their lives as a sort of moral compass by which to steer our own actions and choices. Mr Lucado’s writing, as always, is emotional and inspirational. His recounting of broken people living victorious lives is moving and endearing. I was particularly drawn to his chapter on Mary, Martha and Lazarus – highlighting how each of the three characters are necessary and have important functions, and yet each tend toward a particular flaw when left on their own.

As I typically feel about Mr Lucado’s style, it leaves something to be desired. I know many, many people are touched by his writing, and for that I must give him credit. His writing is emotional and sincere. I can’t help reading one of his books, however, and wishing that he would plumb a little deeper, reach beyond the simple, surface-y, Sunday School answers and really point me to Jesus’ for Jesus’ sake alone.

I couldn’t help feeling that the whole emphasis of the book just slightly missed its mark. I wanted the pages to be full of God’s glory for God’s sake, but I seemed to only find God’s glory for our sake. For my sake – for your sake – for the sake of David, and Esther and Peter and Paul and all the rest. Maybe I’ve missed Lucado’s point entirely – and I will be the first to admit that is possible. Yet I couldn’t help feeling that somewhere, in all of it – God’s glory was downplayed so that I could feel good. God has found a place for me – even if I am a classic Martha grumbling to myself in the kitchen that I don’t have enough help – and I am so special because God found a place for me. As I read, I found myself looking inward, not to examine my own sin but to look for  how I could be the next Paul, the next Peter.

Aside from my theological caveats and my personal preference for deeper theological writing, I will say that this book has something to offer to any reader. It reads quickly and easily, so if you’re not much of a bookworm or need a book to relax into rather than mentally challenge you, Cast of Characters is the ideal read. If you chose to pick this up, I hope that you are inspired to look into the face of these long-past saints and sinners, and find inspiration to fuel your spiritual journey!


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