Tullian Tchividjian has a new book coming out soon, called “One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World”. This is Tullian’s seminal book, the message he has been aiming at in one way or another for his whole ministry and possibly his whole life. In the same period as being told that my job was being ended, and that our church was possibly being ousted from its building, and the stress of raising four boys who are all in some stage of coming of age, I sat down truly exhausted in every way to read about inexhaustible grace for an exhausted world. It was like drinking a tall cold glass of water when you’re incredibly thirsty! He really did not have to try too hard to make the case that I and everyone I know is stressed out and exhausted!
What is wonderful about this book is that he is not making the case that we ought not to feel exhausted in order to serve God better. He never says that we are prosperous western first-world citizens that ought not feel exhausted. He makes the case that I so loved in Allain de Botton’s book “Status Anxiety” that we can actually divorce our identity and well-being from our success in our endeavors:
When we worship at the altar of performance–and make no mistake, performancism is a form of worship–we spend our lives frantically propping up our images or reputations, trying to do it all–and do it all well–often at a cost to ourselves and those we love. Life becomes a hamster wheel of endless earning and proving and maintenance and management and controlling, where all we can see is our own feet. Performancism causes us to live in a constant state of anxiety, fear, and resentment until we end up heavily medicated, in the hospital, or just really, really unhappy.
The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t end there. That would be a great point in and of itself. The gospel speaks powerfully into the lives of first-world 21st century performance-driven exhausted people. The message of Christ and Him crucified for sinners is the message of this book, applied to our real and present lives. We need the gospel here and now more than ever!
I love how he applies the message of the failure of performancism and the power of the gospel to his own personal story. This book is readable and engaging and brings the gospel to life because he explains it in light of his own early adulthood, his marriage, his parenthood, and even his own parents and grandparents. We see the revelation of the gospel gradually unfold in his real-life experience and relationships, and this is a very powerful story indeed.
In a later chapter, he contrasts the performancism of a young hothead on Match.com who in a comical way was very taken with his own success at performancism with Paul’s Christ-based identity as explained in Phil 3:7-9:
Paul’s identity is anchored in Christ’s accomplishment, not his own; Christ’s strength, not his; Christ’s pedigree and track record, not his own; Christ’s victory, not Paul’s. What a relief. If Paul, whose accomplishments are not exactly small potatoes, saw this as something so good that he was willing to suffer the “loss of all things,” then how much sweeter for those of us who didn’t start umpteen churches or write a sizeable chunk of the New Testament!
I love that take on this passage. And, I love this book, I think it is his best book yet! It gets a big thumbs-up from thereforenow.com; I encourage everyone to pick up a copy and get encouraged and blessed and even entertained.