The Christian life is hard! Let’s face it, when surrendered our lives to Christ we had no clue what would be in store. Honestly that might be a good thing. If we had fully known what the Christian life would throw our way, we might have run a thousand miles in the opposite direction. When we surrendered to Christ, however, we signed on to an amazing journey that is hard, yes…but deeply satisfying in the end. The Bible calls this journey sanctification. It is the process by when become more like Christ.
There are two extremes, however, by which we view the sanctification process. (1) We think that we are saved by grace and kept by works. In this extreme we tend to cling to God’s grace in regards to the act of salvation itself (justification). We use phrases like Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), many times quoting from Ephesian 2:8-9. We are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone! No one can be saved apart from the grace of God. And all God’s people said…AMEN! But when it comes to the Christian life (sanctification) we think that we are left on our own to figure it out by sheer grit and determination. It is for this reason, when we sin, we feel that God is mad at us and we have to in some way earn back his love. (2) The opposite extreme is the idea that we are saved by grace so we can live our lives however we want and sin as much as we want, because God will show us grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace.” Both extremes are unhealthy in the life of a believer. They can either cause a disciple to loose heart because life is too hard or they will live in compromise.
In his new book Active Spirituality, Brian Hedges addresses this issue. The book is written as a series of letters to a young man named Chris. Throughout the book Brian helps Chris address issues such as assurance, sin, depression, temptation, doubt, perseverance, and many more issues. He writes each letter from the heart of a pastor who has struggled in much the same way and has been brought through by the grace of God. He encourages Chris to pray, read, worship, submit, repent, and trust. The Christian life is lived by the grace of God, and we are called to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” We are called to struggle. For in that struggle we molded into the image of Christ by grace.
Active Spirituality is a deeply refreshing book, because it serves as a reminder that there are other believers who are struggling in the same way. Our struggles and frustrations are not isolated cased for “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9). In this book, Brian Hedges reminds us that we are not alone. He encourages believers to fight the good fight of faith, and keep our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.
The Christian life is not meant to be lived on the couch…get active!
(I received this book through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review of the book.)