Mikey Lynch has written a very useful book that will benefit many people. At face value it’s a book that asks a simple question: how do I obey Jesus’ call to radical discipleship whilst living the life of a normal person who goes to work on Monday? The Bible promotes both “peaceful and quiet lives” (1 Timothy 2:2) and sacrificial discipleship (Mark 8:34-35). How do these things connect? What is my life supposed to look like?
A book about lots of things
The answer to that question is complicated. Answering it properly involves a range of biblical themes and doctrines. This is a book of intersections between big topics: between ethics and eschatology, between the goodness of creation and the urgency of the gospel, between Christian obedience, Christian decision making, and Christian freedom. Mikey ably guides readers through dense theological territory without the book becoming too content-heavy.
So much Christian talk fails to recognise the particularly of things: “knowing who we are, where we are, when we are”.
A book about particular things
These are also very practical questions, not just theoretical ones. The book not only asks how we are to live, but how I am to live. So much Christian talk fails to recognise the particularly of things: “knowing who we are, where we are, when we are”. That is, each of us is different: we have different skills, abilities, temperaments, capacities, personal relationships, duties, responsibilities, experiences . . . the list goes on. And yet very often our sermons, Christian conversations, and even our own self-talk seem to expect all Christians to look like they came out of a cookie-cutter. Yes, we are all called to look more like Jesus. But we are supposed to look like the Jesus-shaped version of ourselves, and in our own unique life circumstances. The specifics of living the Christian life will look different for each of us. If that sounds complicated then you’ve understood rightly. This book helps us to recognise that knowing how to live involves recognising the complexity of life rather than attempting to simplify it illegitimately.
A book about wisdom and freedom
Knowing how to live well as “who, when and where I am” is the skill that the Bible calls “wisdom”. God doesn’t micromanage our every decision. Rather, by his Spirit, God renews our minds so that we are able to apply the Bible’s teaching to our lives with wisdom and discernment. This is where Christian freedom comes in. God renews us to be good decision-makers and gives us the freedom to make decisions ourselves.
A book about sacrifice
God’s creation is good. God’s many gifts of creation should be enjoyed with thanksgiving. But we have better things in store for us in God’s new creation. Christian wisdom sees clearly that it is worth choosing to give up good things now for the sake of God’s Kingdom. God’s grace leads Christians to sacrifice many of God’s good gifts now for better things to come.
He also has some gems scattered through his footnotes, such as an appreciative critique of Piper’s ‘Christian hedonism’
A book for us to read together
This is not a simplistic book. Mikey draws on the insights a range of academic theologians and distils them for the sake of ordinary Christians. Theology graduates will recognise material drawn from Augustine, Calvin, Oliver O’Donovan, Andrew Cameron, and many others. He also has some gems scattered through his footnotes, such as an appreciative critique of Piper’s “Christian hedonism” (p.115, fn.83). All this makes it a surprisingly rich book. It is pitched for the average Christian reader but is very profitable for church leaders too.
Given that this book deals richly with questions that are of practical interest to all followers of Jesus, this is a great book to read and reflect on with others. One of the strengths of this book is the way in which it connects the Bible’s teaching to our unique lives. Making the most of that takes personal reflection. Given that this book discusses both big ideas and the particularities of application I believe it could be very helpful for Bible study groups. Perhaps Matthias Media could be persuaded to produce a study-guide to accompany it?