Over the last year or two I have been handing out Simply Christian by N.T. Wright, sometimes actually going through this book with those who are interested. It is a wonderful book, especially for seekers or those newer to the faith needing to get a “big picture” view of what God is doing in Christ and His kingdom. It is also a book you can read and then give to others who may be seekers, reading it yourself so that you know what it is before you give it away.
Another book by Wright, one that is a bit like a simplified version of Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy, is After You Believe, which at first sounds like it, too, is for those new to the faith. It is much more. And it is a great book. In it Wright gives more of the big picture, as he does in Simply Christian, but he then gives each individual life much more specific direction, so that we can each find our places in the big picture. Not that this is a book on finding God’s specific will for your life – as in, “I think God wants me to be a missionary!” It is more like: “since this is what God is doing with the world, I should be living like this.”
Maybe you have read After You Believe, or you may even want me to make suggestions beyond After You Believe because you are planning quickly to devour it and know that you will be excited to keep going! So, . . . if you have not read The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis and John Elderidge, you will definitely want to order it, as well. It will simply do this: it will help you be in a loving, richly blessed relationship with God. And, if you are still chomping at the bit, the church staff is currently reading together Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World, by Lee Camp. Lee’s book will challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus in a way that few books do. It is Jesus and Kingdom oriented, and it will call into question the elements of your attitude and life that most need scrutinizing.
Why all the suggestions about what to read? Two reasons. First, many faithful Christians find themselves dissatisfied. It is not that they are dissatisfied with God, or even the church (although some of us love to blame both God and/or the church for our dissatisfaction), it is that they are dissatisfied with life, or they might even say that they are dissatisfied with themselves, feeling like the ways in which they live life just don’t fit with what they expected or wanted life to be. For those of us who feel like this, the books I have suggested are ready medicine. Each one is worth your time and money. Each one, also, will, hopefully, lead you into Scripture, where you most need to be. The roots of each of the books I have mentioned go down deep into what God has revealed of Himself in the Bible, applying biblical instruction to the lives we face. For many of us this is exactly what would be most fruitful. Second, many in our church are clearly going through a time of growth. I want to challenge those experiencing this not to relax or let down your guard for a moment, pressing on toward the heights to which Christ has called you. Others among us may not have been growing, yet, and any one of the materials I have suggested would be a great way to get on board both with what many are experiencing and with what God desires for your life.
– Kelly Carter