Book Review: The Jesus Life
Author: Stephen W. Smith
Publisher: David C. Cook ISBN: 9781434700643
I like this book a lot. I’ve just finished reading it and I gauge my state of mind and emotion as… serene. There is something about the way the book was written and the overall style of it that seems peaceful, uncluttered, and cleansing. I may not be able to fully articulate what the reasons are for my using those words, but they seem right to me for the moment.
Stephen W. Smith is the cofounder and spiritual director of Potter’s Inn, an international ministry devoted to spiritual formation and the care of the soul. This is the first book I’ve read from him (he has written several others), and I would say that he does indeed write with the heart and hand of a spiritual director. The pace of the book is easy and assuring; I never felt rushed, guilty, over-challenged, or pressured in any way while I was reading The Jesus Life. What I felt through every chapter was welcomed and accepted…encouraged and cared for. Honestly, I think this is the sum of the Jesus life, that is, accepted and welcomed as we are and encouraged to become all that God destined us to be, because He cares for us. I think this was captured in the writing of Stephen Smith.
Stephen begins The Jesus Life establishing the need for humanity, particularly the followers of Jesus, to recover their life. He points out that we have lost our way in the midst of our hurry, detachment, and consumer lifestyles in our contemporary societies. The remedy for reclamation, he asserts, is found in the Jesus way of living; a life of rhythm sustained by the presence and power of God. Beginning part three of the book, Smith defines the eight ways of recovering authentic Christianity defined by the way Jesus “did” his life.
The eight ways described as the “ways of Jesus” include The Way of Dailiness, The Way of Hiddenness, The Way of Family, The Way of Companionship, The Way of the Table, The Way of Doing Good, The Way of Ritual, and The Way of Suffering.
I think all of the “ways” described by Smith are valid and well defined. While I’m not sure the “ways” are listed in a hierarchal order, it seemed fitting to me that the Way of Dailiness was the first way discussed. The way of dailiness introduces the reader to the need for slowing down and entering into a rhythm of life…something without which, it is hard to comprehend understanding or entering into the next seven ways. Perhaps it is intended to “set the stage.” Additionally the Way of the Table and the Way of Ritual both gave me much to think about as did the Way of Suffering.
The completion of each of the chapters includes a handful of “getting started ideas” to begin practical steps implementing the Ways of Jesus in our lives. I think all of these were well thought out and look forward to using some of them personally as well as introducing them in retreat settings. A discussion guide is also included at the end of the book that I found equally practical for group or individual use.
I recommend the book highly, especially if you are someone who wants to regain the promise of the Jesus life in your own life. It is available and Stephen W. Smith helps point in the direction of Jesus.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.