Becoming Worldly Saints- A Review

I picked up Becoming Worldly Saints by Michael Wittmer for two reasons: Tim Challies had41GL9R+ZF7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ reviewed/recommended the book, and because it intrigued me. “Worldly saints? Aren’t we supposed to be holy saints?” So I started reading it, and soon enough the author explicitly laid out the basic question he was trying to answer: “Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life?” Being a person who wants to live a life surrendered to Jesus, this is a question that has crossed my mind several times in the form of, “Is it okay to take a vacation? Is it okay for workers to take a break from work and travel to other places they like? Are ministers free to do other things they like without being judged by laymen? Is it okay for Christians to use entertainment, or to buy certain gadgets?”

With good sense of humor and a strong biblical theology (he actually structures his book in the frame of Creation, Fall, and Redemption), Michael Wittmer seeks to answer this question with a resounding YES! with arguments from the Bible. He seeks to remind us that Christians are also humans (not a different kind of beings), and that we ought to enjoy God’s good gifts of creation. He challenges our sometimes platonic view of life, and exalts Jesus as King over creation and redemption. He means to offer a balance to books such as Radical by Platt by encouraging us (especially those Christians who have a sensitive conscience) to live in the tension of creation and redemption as we fully live out our earthly calling and enjoy it.
Personally, one of the most eye-opening chapters was the one on rest. I need to rest, I know that, but Wittmer not only convicted me of my lack of it, but also made it a desirable part of God’s created order. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“Rest is the goal of work, not the other way around. We don’t rest merely so we can work, but we work so we can rest and enjoy what we have done. Rest is not only our finish line. It’s the starting line too. Creation week underscores the primacy of rest by starting humanity with a Sabbath. As a creature of the late sixth day, Adam’s first full day on earth was the seventh- day rest. He took a break even before he started to work (a practice still followed by Michigan road crews). The first Sabbath was God’s special gift. It wasn’t a reward for a good week of work. Rather, it was the starting point for the week ahead. Sabbath is a gift because it is a day for enjoyment. This day doesn’t just permit us to take a break; it orders us to be nonproductive, to refuse to show up for work. To stop whatever it is we are doing and just be.” (Page 95)
“The Sabbath supplies a surprisingly accurate barometer of our spiritual health. Only those who trust entirely in Jesus are free to put the world in its place and take a break every seventh day. We won’t observe the Sabbath in a legalistic way, fixated on what tasks we must not do, for this shifts the focus back onto us and implies that our standing with God depends on what we are able to deliver. But embracing the truth that we have been given fullness in Christ (Col. 2:10), we are free to be unproductive on purpose.” (Page 97)
“The God who delivers everlasting rest must have our best interests at heart. We can trust that he wants us to enjoy our lives to the full, both now and forever (John 10:10).” (Page 98)
Isn’t that wonderful and inviting?
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to find and place their life and work in God’s redemptive story… to those who would like to get a fresh perspective on what it means to live on mission. And good news! it’s $2.99 this week on Amazon.

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