Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus Can Be Hard to Find in the Present

Over the past few years, I have come to deeply appreciate the value of living in the present and not always the future. When I came across Warren Wiersbe's Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ, I was very intrigued. I've always loved hearing the various names of God and their significance. Using them as a devotional to see God around us all the more is awesome.

The book starts out great, emphasizing the importance of names, including that of God. I particularly loved the exploration of people who know God but have not known God's name for various reasons (this could be a full separate conversation).

In the preface, Wiersbe that Jesus "is alive and says, 'I AM.' He can meet our needs today. He is alive this very moment and offers us a satisfying spiritual life in the present tense" (p. 11) He explains that the simple statement, "I AM," emphasizes the present nature of Christ, which is a reflection I had not noticed, but think is powerful.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book does not really seem to focus on the present nature of Jesus. The names of Jesus and subsequent exploration of their meaning is fine, but they're not that significant. Most of the time, it simply feels like a new way to present conservative evangelical theology. It's a much more organic way of doing so with some devotional elements, but it honestly feels more didactic than devotional.

Ironically, halfway through the book, Wiersbe states, "As important as doctrine is, it isn't enough for us simply to affirm what we believe. We must realize that Bible doctrine is incarnated in the Son of God and that He through the Spirit makes each doctrine real and active in our lives" (p. 103). This is an amazing statement that I think really is the motivation for the book. While we need to know what we believe and why we believe it, our faith is not living or effective if it is not vibrantly present in our daily life in the context of relationship. Again, though, this book just seemed to miss this focus consistently.

Just prior to the above quote, Wiersbe states the following, already in italics: "He moved the resurrection out of a statement of faith and into a person, and out of the future and into the present" (p. 103). This is a great reflection that we should all remember!

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a review (with no obligation for a positive review).

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