John Stott is 89, and few men have had such a profound influence on evangelicalism in Britain. If you were fortunate enough to be sitting down with him and were to ask this man who has followed and preached Christ for more than 60 years for his distilled wisdom and advice in how to do that great task better, I’m confident you would be all ears. It would be foolishness not to listen very carefully to everything he had to say, they should have a profound impact on your life.
That’s the approach I took to reading this, his final, book. Pay close attention, this man knows more than you do about following Jesus, a lot more. So in this short book John Stott advocates for eight undernourished themes of discipleship with the hope that we as a result we would start paying more attention to them because the radical disciple is one who is deeply rooted in Christ.
First that we would be non-conformist to the patterns of this world and respond bravely to the challenges of pluralism, materialism, ethical relativism, narcissism so that instead we might be conformed into Christ’s image.
Second, that we are to prioritise Christlikeness in his incarnation, his service, his love, his endurance and his mission.
Third, that we would grow to maturity through a deep and profound vision of who Christ is.
Fourth, that we would rediscover a right relationship with creation and care for it.
Fifth, that we would see that the call to follow Christ is a call to a life of simplicity.
Sixth, that we would live in balance – balance between individual discipleship and corporate fellowship, balance between worship and work, and balance between pilgrimage and citizenship.
Seventh, that dependence is God’s created intention for us. Dependence first on Him but also on others.
Lastly that we face death in the light of salvation with greater courage, hope, willingness and joy.
On a personal note, I was heartened simply by the fact that he had chosen to include a chapter on simplicity and that he described the Christian life as one marked by ‘simplicity, generosity and contentment’ (p22), three words which are the watchwords of this site.
This is a wonderful book written with grace, humility, sharp insights and gentle but telling wisdom. Not all the chapters hit with equal force or power but taken as whole this is not a book to be ignored. I would give all leaders in all churches this book and challenge them to live just one of these areas more fully and I’m convinced we’d be better for it. Highly recommended.