Book #8 of 2023
The word “demand” brings about a lot of connotations. When someone demands instead of asking for something, my rebellious nature usually tends to not give in to said demand. My heels tend to dig in when things are demanded of me. Just ask nicely, and things will go smoother.
Like many of John Piper’s books, he has a way of explaining what he means in very honest ways. My defenses would not be up nor my heels dug in to disobey if a fire fighter, after rescuing me from the flames of a burning building, thrusts a cool cup of water at me and demands I drink it. “Here, drink this!” he would exclaim, and a heaving, soot-covered me would gladly oblige. This is the tone of the book. There are many things that Jesus demands from His followers, but like the newly rescued, my attitude shifts because all Jesus is demanding of me, He is providing and ultimately is for my good. As a rescue, I am grateful and wanting to do what He demands because it feels good to do it. Like the cool water to my parched throat his demands will help me and heal me. There are some healing that is slow and painful, but in the end, I become better and He is glorfied.
In an interview about this book, Mr. Piper states that he took a 4 month study time to focus solely on the second part of the Great Commission which states “and you shall teach them all that I have commanded you”. What has Jesus commanded us to do? Piper mentions that he was able to group all the commands Jesus gives into 50 categories, each one is then listed as a chapter in the book.
This book was intense, but isn’t Christianity? We are miraculously saved from not just Hell, but our own destruction here on earth. What Jesus asks of us goes against the grain of our nature. To forgive the unforgiveable, to love the unlovely, to pray for our enemies and give to those who would steal from us. Why does Jesus ask such things from us? Because, it was/is what He did/does for us. He forgives the unforgiveable. He loves the unlovely. He intercedes for us, and all that we have exploited and taken and used in His creation, He gladly gives us more. We do all these things for others, because we know it was done to us first. Then, to top it all off, we are better for it. When we gladly obey His commands, we are not tied to the petty things and feelings of this world, but we are elevated to a place the world cannot understand.
After reading these kinds of books, I often wonder what my life would look like if I radically obeyed all Jesus commands. What would my life be like? I have failed to obey most of the things He demands of me, but as always He is longsuffering and compassionate in allowing me to continue in my sanctification. In His eyes, I am forgiven. Blameless. Loved and doing a great job! Even when I don’t feel that way. Truth is immovable to my fluctuating feelings, and I am so grateful for that.
Piper does warn that it is easy to fall into leagalism with these demands, and anything done without love is in vain and even sinful. This also isn’t a to-do list. Remember the imagery given at the beginning. You are not drinking that cool cup of water begrudgingly. In order to have the right attitude, we must have a right understading of what it cost to save us and be grafted into the family of God. And when we understand who we are and that inspite of that, God loved us and sent His Son to save us, then obeying what He demands becomes easy and even pleasant.
To say I enjoyed this book would be the wrong phrase. I grew when I read this. As Christians, we cannot look the same as the world. There is no other religion in the world where the god does all the work, provides all the faith and asks us to rest in his love. We are truly blessed to do as He demands.
This book is 400 pages. It has a Goodreads rating of 4.26.