My friend Trey wrote a book.
And I read it.
I want you to read it too-because he is my friend, but also because it is a very good book.
The book is called Strangers & Aliens: An Anecdotal Commentary on 1 Peter. The cover makes sure to explain it as “A Bible commentary for people who love stories, not commentaries.” And that is a really wonderful and true description of the book. It walks through the book of 1 Peter not by explaining every term from the Greek (although he does use Greek here and there) or endless amounts of cross referencing (although again-where appropriate), but rather by offering stories. And Trey has a million of them.
I met Trey right after my senior year of high school. My first experience with him was a very long and ridiculously over-my-head sermon that he gave to a college ministry I was involved in called This Generation. I found out shortly after that sermon that he would be taking over as the pastor because our current pastor was planting a church elsewhere. I remember sitting on a porch with my boyfriend (now husband) and a couple of our friends and being so off-put by this big-word-using, philosophically-minded man who was going to come in and change all the things we were doing. I mean he had already told us the name was being changed to h2o-blasphemy. As a 17 going on 18 year old, I was appalled. Who did he think he was?
I think it is somewhat natural to resist change-even if we know it will be for our good. Even if we see that somehow it is going to be better on the other side. Change is scary-and maybe we would rather just stay the same. I think that is what was really going on in our heads as my friends and I lamented the rise of new leadership on that warm evening back in 2002. Who knew that a year later, Trey would be the one who married me and my husband? Or that two years later, he would baptize us. Or that seven years later, we would follow him out of a big ole church into a living room of 8 people because we so believed in the vision that he had for what church could really be like.
So it doesn’t surprise me that Trey writes a Bible commentary that isn’t really a commentary. It also doesn’t surprise me that it is so good, and so captivating, and so thought-provoking. He isn’t afraid to change it up. To chart new courses. To try something else. And it works. The book fluidly goes from stories about Nepal and New Guinea and Trey’s wonderfully eccentric family to how God wants us to live in Him here as Strangers and Aliens. Instead of some lofty exposition, he uses real life experiences that we all can understand and relate to.
One of my favorite parts of the book is when Trey writes about 1 Peter 1:13-15—the part about being holy. I mean, I really want to know what this whole “Be holy because I am holy” thing is all about. Trey explains it with a food fight-because of course, when I think of HOLINESS, I think of food fights. But he says “I threw the cookie because everyone else was doing it and I didn’t want to be different.” (p 34). He goes on to explain “Not that being different is the goal, but some of the most intriguing captivating people I know are those who seem totally unaffected by the opinions and trends of the crowd around them. They are kind, nice, polite, sociable, but totally unaffected by what others think. They are just going to do what God says is right. In my mind, that is holiness. And I like it.” I do too. I like being able to see holiness that way.