I am a part of a book club for moms that focuses on reading books that are non-fiction (sigh). Our books are not always well-received in our group. We have read books on parenting which we find difficult. Some of us are laid back parents, some of us have children that thrive under structure, and we even have a mom who has children that were adopted older, so a parenting book that works for one doesn’t always work for the other. And just like parenting, marriages are different as well. We are all constantly at different places in our marriages – none better than the other, just different. Some of us are over-the-top conservative, and others think the word “submission” is an actual cuss word.
So in our moms club of awesomeness, where we do life, pray for each other, love each other unconditionally and speak truthfully always, we have decided the best books to read are the books that are about the foundation of us: books about Jesus.
This last round we read Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.
THIS. BROKE. OUR. BRAINS.
I don’t want to give away the whole book but his main theme is: the Gospel that saves you in the beginning is the same Gospel that saves you at the end of your life. The TRUTHS about God’s unfathomable grace are always true, but as a society, we add to our salvation. So it’s Jesus+ moralism or Jesus+ legalism. We are constantly adding things to our faith to make us better Christians, but that negates the cross.
This idea of abundant grace isn’t new, and isn’t even really Tullian’s idea (it’s Jesus’). Tim Keller talks about it as well. But I had never seen it paired directly with our actions like this. This book made me realize how often we try and fix ourselves . . . which is ridiculous. I mean, really? First, I can’t fix myself – only God can. Second, Jesus takes me just the way I am, every day, not just on the day I got saved. And third, what changed? Why was I good enough when I first got saved, but then if I do not perform, do I lose my salvation?
He also talks a lot about the restlessness we feel and the need to fill the “voids” in our lives, which is when we start adding things. Tullian says things like:
“Because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak.”
“The Gospel liberates us to be okay with not being okay.”
“It’s not your old life you want back; it’s your idols you want back, and I love you too much to give them back to you. ”
No one in our group said this book was “okay” or “terrible” (which is a first for us). Everyone said this book was really affecting them in a deep way. The things it talks about are so contrary to many things that are preached to us from the pulpit on Sundays that it is hard to wrap your brain around the very simple concepts. It’s a re-training of ourselves. Often one of the girls would say, “Okay, but what does that look like? How do I do what he is asking of me?” And the really annoying answer was always: you don’t, Jesus does.
This book helped me BE a better Christian to others by realizing that my “walk” with God has nothing to do with me being a better Christian than others, because the truth is, we are all the same. We are all sinners. I had always heard “the ground is level at the cross.” But now I really understand it.
I would give this book five out of five stars (its one flaw being that it is REALLY repetitive, like most Christian books).
Give this book a try! And let me know what you think!