Maybe being a Christian doesn’t mean that we have to “change the world, be an expert in everything, accept spiritual failure, and feel miserable pretty much all the time”, but it sure helps…
Or perhaps not. At least, that’s the claim (and subtitle) of Kevin DeYoung’s new book Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time.
As the subtitle suggests, this book is about how to take a load off as Christians. We don’t have to have the answer to everything, we don’t have to be perfect, and we don’t have to save the world, in order to be acceptable to God. The work that will make us acceptable has already been done by Christ, and as a result we are pleasing to God even though we still sin, perhaps aren’t terribly good at our jobs, get lazy from time to time, and so on. For the believer, for the person whose sin has been atoned for on the cross and for whom the obedience of Jesus has counted as their own, we are pleasing to God–warts and all.
This is counter to both our intuition as believers (especially if we misread books like 1 John) and to what the culture tells us, especially in the instant world of social media. We all have to have opinions about everything. The Republicans had trouble finding a Speaker? You need to have an opinion about that (never mind that nobody knows exactly what the Speaker is–or even what he’s the “Speaker” of–anyway). There’s that global warming on? Get to work fixing it (think global, act local!). Did you notice all the homeless people around? Why not go down to the soup kitchen and help out. Etc etc etc.
It might be that these are all good things to think about, and even good things for believers to engaged with. But our being pleasing to God does not hinge on whether we do them all right, or even whether we do them at all. In that sense, Christianity is not “impossible.” DeYoung’s book is a needed reminder of that, especially in our social media-drenched society where Christians have drunk the cultural Kool-Aid that requires us to opine on everything all the time. We need to reject this cultural brew in favor of a smaller, quieter, and more faithful life where we enjoy God’s pleasure in us and pursue holiness the way believers have done for the last two millennia, rather than with the neurotic freneticism increasingly defining our culture.