Many people, including me, enjoy the parable of the Prodigal Son, so when the references popped up just a few pages into Vince Antonucci’s latest book, I knew I was in for a ride. (If you don’t happen to be familiar with the story, find yourself a Bible and turn to Luke, chapter 15.) But God for the Rest of Us: Experience Unbelievable Love, Unlimited Hope, and Uncommon Grace (Tyndale, 2015) is not just the usual take on the story: God loves me just like the father in the parable loves the wayward son. Antonucci takes it a little further, and reminds us that extravagant grace doesn’t just apply to me, and to the people who have proved they deserve it.
And by the way, the word prodigal has a meaning that most of us don’t ever think of: wastefully extravagant. And God is definitely wastefully extravagant when it comes to offering us His love, grace and mercy. Do we deserve it? Yeah, not so much so, but we get it anyways.
No, the love that God showers on each of us, is also available for “the rest of us”: a group that in the author’s eyes are generally far outside the realm of the people we expect to see in church, and therefore in God's grace. His A-Z list of people who are eligible for God's grace includes Adorable people, addicts, atheists and abortionists, Blue men in the Blue Man group, singers named Justin, the Kardashians, overweight obituary writers, strippers in stilettos, ushers and Usher, and even zoologists preparing for the zombie apocalypse.
God doesn’t wait until we’ve proved that we deserve His love and grace, He showers us with it, and at some point we realize that we don’t want to live without it. The book is full of stories of people (including himself) who one day woke up to the fact that God loved them and decided to respond to that call on their lives. We’re prodigals—we waste the gifts that God has given us, but God is prodigal too. He has more than enough love to cover our prodigal wandering.
And as a pastor in Las Vegas, Antonucci frequently sees people from the realm of ‘church people’. A blurb on the back cover says that the author ‘performs stand-up comedy in Las Vegas’. Whether he honed his skill as a comedian through writing, or his writing skills by doing comedy, this book is well written, with a great use of words, and an impeccable comedic timing.
Some of the stories have been told before in his other books, but they are just as relevant the second time around. You might fit into one of the unexpected categories of people that God loves, or at least know someone that does. Whether it’s for you or someone else, you owe it to yourself to read the book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.