About This Blog

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"One Way Love" (Tullian Tchividjian)

TITLE: One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
AUTHOR: Tullian Tchividjian
PUBLISHER: Colorado Spings, CO: David C. Cook Publishers, 2013, (240 pages).

Do we still need another book about law and grace? That was my question when I first started reading this book. After the introduction, I was sold. We need to be reminded again that it is "grace alone" that suffices. Many Churches are still practicing a form of works+performance sprinkled with grace kind of a spirituality. Other churches aim at a lot of grace together with works. Tchividjian challenges readers and churches to move from "grace a lot" to "grace alone." This is essentially going back to the Reformation call by Luther for sola gracious. According to the author, the Church is way overdue for an "inexhaustible grace" in an increasingly "exhausted world." This is how the author begins. He describes the constant push and shove that Christians have given in, competing in the world according to worldly standards. As long as one can earn some assurance, safety, possession, or some kind of a control over one's life, working hard is a no brainer. Unfortunately, the costs can be quite high. The need to desire constant approval leads easily to pride, arrogance, and distrust of the world and people around us. We prefer perfectionism to acceptance of our humanness. We insist on crazy excellence instead of humane understanding of our limitations.  So much so that Christians have even turned the Bible of God redeeming us, into a self-help manual on how to redeem ourselves! In insisting on a You-rub-my-back-and-I-rub-yours kind of reciprocity in relationships, we have unwittingly forgotten that grace is a one-way love, independent of how others treat us. Worse, when we receive something free, inevitably we ask why!

This very "why" response is exactly the trigger for the author's return from rebellion. Describing his teenage years of resisting his parents' wishes, he becomes fascinated by acts of grace on him to win him back. Fully expecting the "voice of the law," or people trying to straighten things out with him,  he realizes the power of unmerited grace just like the parable of the Prodigal Son. His own life is a testimony of how it is not the law but grace that led him home.

The journey to a "grace alone" life continues with a tribute to his late father, that "it was his unconditional, reckless, one-way love for me at my most arrogant and worst that God used to eventually bring me back." This journey is threatened by fear of judgment, stress, anxiety, and a performance infatuated culture. The more one is addicted to law, the less one is attracted to grace. It needs conscientious battling against law-based behaviours. The author admits that every relationship has various degrees of judgmentalism. We can fight, take flight, or appease people or their expectations. The key is to abandon the low view of law (of judgment) and to adopt a high view of law (of fulfillment in Christ).  This fulfillment in Christ is learning to share the love of God in grace.  It is about a one-way-love that gives without expecting anything in return. Grace shifts one from hurting to healing. It surprises us. It counters the world. Grace keeps us humble. The world praises performers and successful people. Grace accepts people regardless of performance or success. It turns out to-do list upside down, turning a have-to mindset to a want-to desire.

So What?

The reason why grace is such a needful topic nowadays is simply because the world we live in are increasingly graceless and cruel. People care for their own agendas. There are plenty of law-based behaviours even among Christians. The topic of grace is relevant for all, for Christ died for all. It reminds me of the wisdom of one desert fathers, who was asked what the spiritual life is all about. He replied: "I fall down. I get up. I fall down. I get up. I fall down again. I get up again."

These seemingly mundane set of actions can be applied to grace. We work, and we sin. Grace renews us. We work and sin again. Grace forgives us again and again. The difference is this. True recipients of grace will want to sin less and less. They want to share the grace of God. They want to bless people. They will journey along the direction of "one-way-love" giving as much as possible, expecting as little as possible in return. Perhaps, one day, we can grow to the point of expecting NOTHING in return, fully wanting to please God who has given us everything.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by David C. Cook Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment