04 May 2017

Book Review: The Imperfect Disciple

When I saw Jared Wilson's The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can't Get Their Act Together (2017) on the list of available books from Baker Books, I tweeted with excitement. Wilson is one of my favorite writers, one of only two authors whose books have made my yearly top 10 list more than twice (Eugene Peterson is the other). Earlier this year, I suspected a fourth appearance would be likely after I read The Pastor's Justification.

The Imperfect Disciple did not disappoint. It is a book about Christian discipleship, but it didn't read that way. The signs were there--references to prayer and quiet times, mentions of Dallas Willard and John Ortberg--but it felt different, more Wilson that Willard. Wilson employs captivating writing that showcases justification, grace, and a big Christ. Wilson has the remarkable skill of sharing his own (often painful) narrative in a way that highlights not him, but Jesus.

I was particularly fond of chapter 3, "staring at the glory until you see it." He writes about learning how to behold the glory of Jesus and its superiority to simple behavior change. Chapter 6 (The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed) was also particularly good. It dealt with what Christian community could be, a place of confession, grace, prayer, and real life.

But chapter 9 wrecked me. In chapter 9, Wilson dealt with living in the midst of suffering and disappointment, showing us that God's grace meets us in the depths of our pain. But it was second paragraph on page 210 that did me in:

"When you are in the pit of suffering--on the verge of death, even--Jesus isn't up in heaven simply blasting you down below with some ethereal virtues. He's not "sending good thoughts"--or worse, "good vibes"--your way. No, when you are laid low in the dark well of despair, when the whole world seems to be crashing down on you, when your next breath seems sure to be your last, Christ Jesus is down in the void with you, holding you. He keeps your hand between his own. He offers his breast for your weary head. He whispers the words of comfort a whisker's breadth from your ear: 'And behold, I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20, emphasis added). Grace is all-sufficient for weakness and for suffering because Jesus is all-sufficient." 

I don't remember the last time I began crying reading a non-fiction book, but reading that paragraph, I did. Jesus is with me always. Wilson has the ability, rarely matched, to make me rest in Jesus' arms.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my review from Baker Books. I was not required to submit a positive review. The views expressed here are my own.

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