Review & Giveaway: Jesus’ Vision for Your One Wild and Precious Life - Word&Way

Review & Giveaway: Jesus’ Vision for Your One Wild and Precious Life

With Holy Week fast approaching, many congregations (including the one I pastor) will commemorate Good Friday with a service centered on the “seven last words” of Jesus on the cross. It’s a powerful liturgical way of focusing on the crucifixion of Jesus and what his death means for those who seek to be his followers.

With all the theological attention given to those words Jesus utters as he dies, wouldn’t it also make sense to look at the words he emphasizes about how to live? That obvious — yet neglected — observation is the genesis for Mike Graves’s latest book, Jesus’ Vision for Your One Wild and Precious Life.

“There’s always these Lenten studies on the seven last words of the Christ,” the former seminary professor and current scholar-in-residence at Country Club Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kansas City, Missouri, explained during a recent episode of Dangerous Dogma. “What would the seven first words be? … The book really takes on this kind of notion that Jesus didn’t come to die and neither did we. He came to live and that’s what his gift to us is: his life.”

Like N.T Wright’s After You Believe or Rowan Williams’s Being Disciples, Graves has written a book that takes seriously not only the teachings of Jesus but the idea that claiming him as Lord and Savior should transform our lives in the here and now. It seeks to unpack what the abundant life offered by Christ looks like and critiques presentations of Christianity that reduce Jesus to a ticket master providing one-way passes to heaven.

Graves accomplishes this not through dense theological reflection but by the simple idea that Jesus’s life can speak to how we live. After all, the concept of “following” trades on the understanding that we’re not trying to create something new or unique. Rather, we seek to comprehend and imitate what we find to be compelling and convicting. If we really believe what we claim about Jesus, then our days should be devoted to modeling ourselves after him.

As Graves wrote in his concluding chapter, “I invited us to imagine a biographer following Jesus around, taking notes on his passions, his beliefs, and how he lived out those beliefs. I also invited us to imagine having coffee with Jesus several times a week for a year or so to see what might stand out to us. What was he all about? And what might our life look like if we followed him?”

Graves does this through provocative and inspiring reflections on seven sayings by Jesus: “Follow Me,” “Good News to the Poor,” “Blessed are the…,” “You Give Them Something to Eat,” “Your Faith Has Made You Well,” “The Kingdom of God is Like,” and “Love of God and Neighbor.” These teachings are as valuable to the Christian life as what we hear from Jesus on Good Friday. For they help us understand Jesus’s priorities, his witness to the reign of God, and the passion for God’s people that came before — and in many ways led to — his utterance of “it is finished.”

Any Christian could benefit by reading this book, but the volume is specifically geared toward use in small groups. Pastors or church leaders looking for a resource to help with adult Sunday School, a Lenten study next year, or a way to help those who show up on Easter and find themselves curious enough about Jesus to stick around and engage the Christian faith will find it difficult to identify a better resource. The book is filled with content written by a scholar with a pastor’s heart who is rooted in the congregational life of a healthy church. And each chapter ends with a series of helpful discussion questions that will prompt great conversation.

Regular readers of these monthly reviews may have noticed my bias for books authored by experts that are aimed at a non-academic audience. Personally, I love to read what those smarter than me have to share about topics that spark my passion, especially when the purpose is strengthening my discipleship and/or building up Christ’s Church. That’s why I read anything that Mike Graves writes.

For those committed to living their one life as a follower of Jesus, Jesus’ Vision for Your One Wild and Precious Life is a fantastic resource for reflecting on what it means to be Christian and how to put those beliefs into action. Graves has generously agreed to send an autographed copy of the book to one wild and paid subscriber of A Public Witness. So if you’re not already a paid subscriber upgrade your subscription today and you might be that lucky winner!

As a public witness,

Beau Underwood

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