Discipleship means different things to different people, often with unhelpful connotations. But stay with me. This book is about being a disciple, which John Mark Comer terms as being an ‘apprentice’, perhaps a more healthy and more accurate word to use. It is about learning to follow The Way, which is just how Jesus talked about it. It implies a freewill choice, an attitude of wanting to learn, develop and improve. It implies an ongoing forward momentum, without any connotations of force or discipline.
John Mark Comer applies his usual common-sense, practical approach, coupled with plenty of input from many other Christian writers and thinkers, which is what you would expect from a well-read author. His advice is sound, his words are wise. His topic may be centuries old, but his thinking cuts away so much of the distraction that can cloud our faith in the world as it is now, offering a refreshing reminder of how simple our faith can be, and how often we over-complicate it.
He focuses the reader on the importance of intimacy with God, finding our ‘secret place’ and allowing ourselves to be infused, by being in His presence. This then permeates our thoughts and words and deeds, and the process of being an apprentice takes us on a path of increasingly deeper relationship.
He addresses the challenges to spiritual formation, how to move knowledge of Christ from the head to the heart, which seems to be on track with a lot of teaching that is in and around the church at the moment. He lays out some practical advice on how to align our life in a way that honours God and builds relationship, to become increasingly Christ-like.
He writes with a heart to help others. To encourage the reader in their walk with Jesus and to learn from some of the practices that he does himself, teaching from a place of understanding and empathy.
Having spent a short time last year on a retreat alongside Benedictine monks at a monastery, which was an amazing experience, it is encouraging to read John Mark supporting the virtues of that sort of lifestyle. One that we find very challenging to our way of life, but one that has so much to apply to our lives and learn from.
On a side note, it is interesting that the last two books I have read have encouraged the reader to simply “do the next thing” … to not stress, but just take life one step at a time. I think someone is trying to tell me something! Do the next thing.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advance copy, in exchange for an honest review.