So this is actually the most recent of 4 books that I have finished, but not yet written about. Since it’s the freshest in my head, I thought this one should go first.
This one has been on my list for awhile. It’s by John R.W. Stott, who is quite an interesting fellow. As with many authors, it’s good to get to know his background, and his experiences, because that helps us to understand who he is, the perspective from which he comes, and potential biases that he may have. It’s so interesting to read people’s writing in light of their experiences. So, as a sidenote, get to know some of your friends (whom you don’t know their past), authors you are reading, and pastors you are sitting under.
Okay, so back to John. One interesting thing I found out was that he was the son of an agnostic, and came to know the Lord in boarding school. Also, he was discipled by a man through weekly letter (cool huh?). Also, probably a little known fact is that he was/is committed to singleness, and hence never married.
Basic Christianity is a short, simple book that outlines, you guessed it, the basics of Christianity. For the most part it was all things I know, but, like one of my former pastors said- sometimes you just read a book for that one line. Although that’s not normally what I get out of books (i’m more of a theme reader), that was true of this one.
In the ninth chapter, Stott lays out the cost of following Christ. On page 108, he says the following:
“The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers- the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called ‘nominal Christianity.’ In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numberes of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.”
This is something Jake and I have been discussing off and on for the past several years. It always seems to come up in different forms– whether it be in light of the persecuted church, or the blind eye the church turns to the poor and hurting and outcasts of society (sidenote: do we ever go out and ask the outcasts of society to come to our church gatherings? i’ve just noticed that in all of this new, cool, church advertisement (which is, at best, a fad of ripping off pop culture), we always seem to target the cool, middle/upper class kids…just an observation).
My first question when reading this was- Tiff, are you living it? Are you sacrificing for the sake of others? Are you loving the unlovable? Does your faith cost you something? Because I think at times I’ve sacrificed radical discipleship in my life for being a cool Christian. I’m mostly okay with not living like the world. But sometimes I’m not okay with not living like the rest of the cool christ-followers. I go with the flow– I read all the cool books, I love Africa (it DOES seem like everyone has a “heart” for Africa), I am into discipleship as a lifestyle… basically I’ve tried to be up on all of that. Those things are great things– and I hope that those are things that I will always have. But, here’s the real question for me- am I loving others well? Am I a light to my neighbors? Do they even know that I’m a follower of Christ– does the way I interact with them feel like love and smell like hope? Am I being obedient to the Lord– no matter how cool or uncool that looks?
And my next paragraph of questions in my head was- how do i communicate this? How do I push others towards this radical commitment, in my community of faith? In my friendships? In my family? And (this is the most forefront one in my mind), in the BSU? How do I communicate this to students? How do I live this to students? How do I convince students that this matters? Because I’ve seen some students drop off the radar this year. And last year. And the year before. Students I would have NEVER EXPECTED. Some have sold out. Or walked out. Maybe they were bored by what they had tasted, because they had never really tasted the adventure and satisfaction. Maybe they were turned off by the hypocrisy of someone’s life. Maybe the world just looks really good to them right now. Maybe they never felt the love of the community. Maybe, just maybe, they had never seen someone consistently live the radical faith relationship that they read about and wanted to live out themselves, and it just became too much.
I don’t know.