Sager releases first book, ‘Jesus in Isolation: Lazarus, Viruses and Us’
Kim Chaudoin |
Lipscomb University’s Scott Sager, vice president for church services, has released his first book. Jesus in Isolation: Lazarus, Viruses and Us was released in March and is published by WIPF & Stock.
In Jesus in Isolation, Sager revisits the New Testament story of Lazarus and uses the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic to view it through a modern-day lens addressing issues such as illness, suffering, isolation and disappointment.
“In this world of illness and isolation, distancing and death, making sense of suffering has never been of more critical importance. Jesus in Isolation invites us to Bethany to witness the illness of Jesus’s best friend, the spiritual isolation of both Jesus and Lazarus’s sisters (Martha and Mary), and Lazarus’s cruel and untimely death from an unseen illness, as well as Jesus’s unexplained absence as he distanced from his friends and missed the funeral,” said Sager. “Yet upon his late arrival, Jesus announced the glory of God had been revealed in the midst of the isolation, the distancing, and even death. Through this story we journey through the great issues of our time as they encounter devastating illness, unanswered prayer, the abandonment of God, senseless suffering, cruel death, spiritual isolation, and deep disappointment.”
Sager said this book project has been more than 30 years in the making. When he was a student at Abilene Christian University in the mid 1980s, He was encouraged by one of his professors to “one day publish a book.”
“I’ve had the notion of writing a book on my mind for years,” explained Sager. “Over the years several mentors and friends encouraged me to write a book. In 2019, I decided to finally make that dream become a reality.”
His original manuscript was entitled, Jesus in the Waiting Room. He finished it in the early weeks of 2020 and had just begun talks with various publishers about his project. And then COVID-19 hit.
“As I reread what I had written and experienced what we all have experienced as the COVID-19 has impacted our families, churches, communities and nations for more than a year, I decided to rework some of what I had written and apply the story of Lazarus to what we all have been feeling through this pandemic. Loneliness, missing family and friends, fear, isolation, hopelessness,” he said. “So much in this story from thousands of years ago applies to what we are experiencing today. Jesus, Mary, Martha and Lazarus all felt many of the same emotions that we are feeling today.”
The book also includes discussion questions, which may be used in small group discussions or classes.
While Sager is proud of seeing his first book published, he said he has also learned a few lessons for the next time.
“Writing a book is not easy,” he admitted. “I have a new and deep respect for people who do this on a regular basis. It definitely takes a team to get it across the finish line.” Sager said he called upon colleagues in Lipscomb’s College of Bible & Ministry to help navigate the topic of one of the book’s chapters.
Sager joined Lipscomb University’s leadership team in July 2011 after a 15-year tenure as senior minister at the Preston Road Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas. In addition to his role at Lipscomb, he also serves as a preaching minister at Green Hills Church of Christ, located adjacent to the university campus in Nashville. In his work at Lipscomb, Sager leads a gathering of over two-thousand church leaders each summer, hosts regional conferences, publishes a magazine called Intersections, is on faculty in the College of Bible & Ministry and also serves as a resource to equip and train church leaders.
Prior to moving to Dallas, Sager was the campus minister at the University of Texas. He holds a Doctorate of Ministry from Southern Methodist University as well as a Master of Divinity and undergraduate degree from Abilene Christian University.