The well meaning mentor asks, “How much have you been reading your Bible?”
You know the response already don’t you? “Not enough,” says the dejected mentee. It’s the same way with almost every spiritual discipline. We are never doing enough to show our dedication for Christ. As a result, there is a whole niche market within Christian publishing that I would term the guilt market.
The guilt market is filled with books and studies which promise to keep us from being such failures in our walk with Christ. If we adopt their Bible study method we will finally be the Bible reading rock-stars we hope to be. Following their prayer method will revolutionize our walk with God. And what cowardly schmuck doesn’t want to read a study which will finally help him to share Jesus with a coworker without wetting his pants?
Jared Wilson’s latest book, The Imperfect Disciple, is thankfully not in the guilt market. In fact, I believe it’s written to speak into such a market of discipleship books. I am thankful for this. I’m thankful for Jared’s relentless work of putting the gospel of Jesus in front of our faces.
I picked up this book in the discipleship section of our Christian bookstore and I’m thankful it was placed there. As I said, I think it’s industry busting. It doesn’t fit. There aren’t chapters on how to be better at Bible study or prayer or any of those things. But oddly enough I think reading through this book will help me in each of these areas.
Each chapter of the book stands on it’s own. The chapters in the book could have been jumbled up and I don’t think it would have impacted the flow or feel of the book. Every chapter takes a different aspect of the Christian life and shows how Christ fulfills what we lack. It’s the typical, and wonderful, writing style of Jared Wilson. He has a wonderful sense of humor and realism that is refreshing. It feels conversation with a friend who loves Jesus and is doing everything he can to consistently point to the sufficiency of Christ.
But this type of pastoral writing is, in my opinion, the most difficult to review. It’s like the guy who says, “you know I can’t remember much about that sermon but it was life-changing”. For us pastors and writers who spend so much time thinking about specific words and phrases such a thing can be insulting. But I think it’s actually a high-compliment. It’s saying that we were so tracking with what was written and said that we cannot put our hat on one particular phrase or illustration. It was just life shaping. That is how Jared’s book was for me. I can go back through it and find a few of the many underlines and remember what it was like reading.
More than anything reading the book had a pastoral and calming effect on my soul. Maybe it has to do with this particular season in my life, but my favorite chapter was The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed. I so badly want to live in community like this. But this chapter convicted me that I can try to “instagram” my life and live in pretense. It’s hard as a pastor not to wish dream. It’s also hard to just be a disciple. But I’m so hungry for this:
A community that is willing to get honest about its sins and its weaknesses and its brokenness finds the abundance of grace it has been longing for. (134)
How can a book be so freeing and frustrating at the same time? It’s like being told of an amazing banquet that you are invited to, but being attached to a fetter that gets you just a few inches away from sitting at the table. This is the challenge. Am I going to keep a comfortable fetter or realize that the chain has already been broken? Am I going to live in the freedom of Christ or rest in the familiarity of performance?
I’d encourage anyone to read this great book. If you are a familiar with Jared Wilson’s writing and blogging then you know what you are getting. You will not be disappointed. If you aren’t familiar then if you are looking for a book written for blockheads who can’t seem to follow Jesus as awesomely as we should, then this book is for you.
I pray this book is life-shaping for those who read it. I also pray it’s industry transforming and that we see many more discipleship books written in this mold.
You can buy it here.