The question

I’ve been talking about and writing about Nehemiah (the book) and Nehemiah (the person) for more than a year. As the conversations and posts and studies and chapters have happened, there is now a book draft. (You can read bits at greatwork.pressbooks.com). But I have been struggling with an important question: “What is this book about?”

There are lots of answers that I think I should have for that question.

  • This book makes you start reading the Bible.
  • This book teaches you how to live a more spiritual life and have no problems.
  • This book is a study book for groups that will help them fill 8 weeks.
  • This book isn’t like all the rest of the books about Nehemiah (or Nehemiah).
But those statements and many more all left me feeling scared and inadequate. And they aren’t why I wrote the book.
Monday afternoon, I finally discovered the reason for the book. I was thinking about what to ask a few friends who have copies. And I thought, “Does this book help you better understand Nehemiah?” (Either Nehemiah the book or Nehemiah the person.)
I can’t think of any other question that matters. Because I realized that what I want the book to do. I want to help you better understand Nehemiah.
I know that there’s the question “why should you want to read Nehemiah?” and lots of other things. I should probably start figuring out how to make people want to read Nehemiah and then wonder how to understand it and then buy my book. But I’m not sure I want to force those things. The book will work or not work only based on whether it helps people better understand Nehemiah.
Just like I’m not sure I should try to talk people into Jesus. Maybe we’re just supposed to help people better understand.
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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

4 thoughts on “The question

    1. that’s a great question, Rich. My goal,or my hope, or my prayer, is that people will know Jesus better. But my piece of it, I think, is to help people understand him better. That’s what a translator does, helps people understand on the way to knowing. Does that make sense?

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