The Sacred Overlap: Learning to Live Faithfully in the Space Between

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


The Sacred Overlap: Learning to Live Faithfully in the Space Between


 J.R. Briggs (foreword by Skye Jethani)


Zondervan Reflective

Publication Date:

September 8, 2020




240 pages


When it comes to living the spiritual life, many Christians find themselves between two extremes. On the one hand are people who draw lots of “us vs them” distinctions which keep them from loving people the way the Bible calls Christians to. On the other hand are people very interested in grace who don’t seem to have clear principles about anything. Strangely enough, the Bible depicts a worldview which is different from both extremes: a world with lots of “both/and” rather than “either/or.” There are clear Biblical principles about morality, but also areas of ambiguity. The Bible also states over and over again that God exists at the intersections of things: he is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus is fully divine and human. Similarly, Jesus’ followers are called not to be totally outside the world or totally within it: they are called to be in and not of it.

J.R. Briggs considers how this “both/and” tension challenges Western Christians to see the world in a new way, yet also frees them to love others in an effective manner. The result is a complex yet powerful way of viewing life that enables people to serve God in ways they couldn’t before. Briggs breaks down this idea into three sections, each capturing a new dimension of the concept:

  • Jesus in the Both/And
  • When Jesus Blows Up Your Either/Or Life
  • Joining God in the Sacred Overlap

Stylistically, this is a rather unusual book. Briggs has a perky sense of humor, the sort of tone frequently seen in books by youth pastors. Unlike many of those writers though, Briggs does more than just impress readers with his personal charisma or give some quick “do this to change your life around” principles. He draws on insights from exegetical Bible study, ancient Christian art, classic and contemporary theology, and various other sources to back up his claims. The result is a book that has enough sources it could be a seminary textbook, yet the writing style is so personal it never feels dense.

This interesting writing style actually allows Briggs to get the heart of his ideas. Since he always sounds relatable and uses simple language whenever possible, he keeps readers interested even when communicating ideas which are hard. Since this book is about choosing to live in certain tensions rather than escape them, hard ideas come up frequently. Briggs’ style guides the readers along, keeping them interesting and pushing them to face those ideas rather than put the book down with the excuse that it was “too dense to get through.”

Overall, this is a terrific book that captures a complex Biblical idea in a way that laymen and experts can both understand.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians (particularly church leaders) seeking to understand a Biblical view of being in the world but not of the world, and a view of living life which embraces the “already here/not yet here” nature of God’s kingdom.

Christian Impact

Briggs helps American readers see Biblical ideas which are not often preached in churches but are crucial to understanding the Bible’s view of the Christian life.

The  Sacred Overlap: Learning to Live Faithfully in the Space Between

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