One of the best spiritual formation books I’ve read in ages is The Imperfect Disciple. This book did my soul so much good, largely because Jared Wilson wrote for normal Christians. Unradical people living their average life now, and feel like they’re generally messing everything up. Y’know, people like me.
Today, rather than offer a detailed review of this book, I want to share just a few of my favorite quotes from the book. Some of them are quotes that I just love the way they’re phrased. Others are moments where I felt ministered to as a reader. Hopefully they’ll be helpful for you, too (y’know, until you go get a copy of the book):
Stuart Smalley was wrong:
In the end, as in the beginning, it is not our good intentions or even our good deeds that will get us out of the muck of ourselves. It is God’s rescuing hand. It is his enduring announcement over us messed-up creatures, “I love you,” that changes everything.
Now, some Christians don’t think this way. It seems too easy. But if it really were easy, more people would do it. No, it’s very difficult because it means, essentially, admitting we don’t have what it takes. (30)
Actually, meekness really does mean weakness:
I once read one of those self-helpy quasi-Christian leadership books for type A personalities where the author turned “Blessed are the meek” into law. Instead of being an announcement it became an action point. Being meek is how we get the blessing, he was saying, but in doing soe he had to redefine everything else about the Sermon on the Mount, including turning Jesus’s promised blessings into success in our project or workplace—basically, anything that Jesus’s wasn’t referring to.
This writer also had to assure us stupid readers, as so many who teach on this passage do, that being meek was not about being weak; it’s instead about “power under control.” You know, because God forbid anybody admit they’re weak or deal with weakness or wrestle at all with Paul saying in 2 Corinthians 12 that, strengths be damned, he’s going to boast in his weakness. (41)
Don’t just look, behold:
Every day when you encounter God—in your devotional time, in your time of worship, in your community groups or classes, or in any other moment in which you spend time with Jesus—you face the choice of simply looking at him or actually trying to see him. (60)
Why we need to get the order right:
With this gospel in proper perspective, followship of Jesus dos not cease to involve effort. But it does place effort in its proper proportion to the true credit in our spiritual account. We are not holy because we work. We work because we are holy. If we don’t get this order right, we don’t get Christianity right. And we will always struggle with the so-called spiritual disciplines—struggle against them, even. (84)
When real words are too weak:
Similarly, I think heaven is way beyond our mental bounds. Heaven is where we finally fell and experience—really, literally, tangibly—the love that is greater than our capacity to love and to even think about love. It’s when glory swallows up existence as we know it, and all hte beauty and wonder and grandeur and exquisite graces of this awesome created world become somehow more, some way deeper and more resonant.
Love wins, sure. But really, lurv wins. (215)