Chris Brauns opens his book Bound Together by sharing a childhood story. It is the story of how a boy Brauns knew got caught up in alcohol at a young age. It was not surprising to others because his family were reputed to be drinkers. Brauns, through this story, illustrates the principle of the rope:
Our future and our place in this world aren't simply the sum of our own individual choices. On varying levels, we are roped together with others. When someone we are roped to is lifted up, we are lifted up with them. When he or she jumps off a figurative cliff, we are pulled down with them. This is what I refer to the "principle of the rope" - the simple truth that our lives, choices, and actions are linked to the lives, choices, and actions of other people. To put it simply, as I have done in the title of this book, we are "bound together," tied to others in our good and bad choices.
I think we are all familiar with this principle. All of us with families know the reality that whether we like it or not, we are affected by the choices those close to us make, and we affect others as well.
Brauns begins by talking about the "original rope," which is the truth of original sin. He explores the biblical basis for the principle of the rope, which proves to be the sobering side of the story. However, he does not leave us despairing. He goes on to show that this principle of being bound together is also found in unity with Christ. He takes the reader through Romans 5:12-21, and discusses how being bound to Christ is stronger than being roped into Adam.
With that foundation, he examines further what it means to bound to Christ, and he also questions the extent to which we can "blame" our actions on being roped in with Adam. While we do not have a choice in being bound with Adam in sin, we are individually responsible for our actions and are each accountable to God.
By way of application, Brauns looks at how being bound together affects our family relationships, our marriages, and the body of Christ. He also shows how solidarity with Christ offers comfort to the dying. He concludes with discussing how this principle of being bound together battles rampant individualism.
As I read, I found myself wishing this had been written when my young adult children were teenagers. How many Christian parents have had a child say, "Why should I pay for Adam's sin? I didn't do it." I think this book would be very appealing for a young person who wrestles with the very difficult idea of original sin, and how it affects him. It provides an excellent basis for discussion about the ramifications of solidarity with our family members, fellow Christians, and the communities around us. Teenagers don't always see the reality of solidarity.
I especially appreciated Brauns's discussion about family relationships. As someone who has just barely moved past parenting teens, I understand the principle of the rope as it relates to how my actions affect my children, and how their actions affect me and the rest of my family. Brauns emphasizes frequently that we are roped together with Christ, which is much stronger than the control of sin. I also was given pause for a lot of thought to his chapter about marriage, which highlights the seriousness of being united with one person, to be one flesh.
At the end of the book, Brauns has an appendix for those who may have questions regarding assurance of salvation. He also does what I love to see authors do, and that is to include a recommended reading list to further explore some of the issues he discusses.
The book was thought-provoking, and written in a comfortable, readable way. I could tell it was written by someone with a pastor's heart for people. I highly recommend it, and I would love to see it handed out to both teenagers and young adults.
I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review. Thanks again to Cross Focused Reviews and Zondervan for the opportunity to read it.