Book Notice: “Nobodies for Jesus: 14 Days Toward a Great Commission Lifestyle”

Lawless-NobodiesforJesusNobodies for Jesus is an act of tomb-raiding into the necropolis that is the human heart. In the book—whose full title is Nobodies for Jesus: 14 Days Toward a Great Commission Lifestyle—author Chuck Lawless writes to awake Christians from a lukewarm Christianity that ignores the Great Commission.

Lawless, who is a professor of evangelism and missions at SEBTS, writes with a simple premise in mind: “Lukewarm believers who fail to see people as lost will not be Great Commission believers. We will not be God’s force set apart to make a dent in the darkness of the world” (p. 2). Toward that end, he writes 14 short devotional studies to encourage Christians to become otherwise, to become Great Commission believers.

The book’s 14 studies are divided into three main parts: Be Amazed (Days 1–6), Be a Nobody (Days 7–12), Do Something (Days 13–14). The first section reflects on God’s glory in Christ, and our appropriate response: amazement. The second section describes the sort of humility that stems from genuine, biblical, Great Commission Christianity. The third section provides two days’ worth of application regarding prayer and Christian testimony.

Each devotional is based upon a specific biblical text and contains Lawless’s reflections on the text, but also includes a few reflection questions and concludes with a “Great Commission Action Step.” For instance, on Day Five, the reader is directed to read Psalm 51 and 1 John 1:9 in order to learn about God’s amazing grace. Lawless reflects on the passage by saying, for example, “If you are a Christian, God has taken the darkness of your sin, somehow cleansed it through his blood, and made you as pure as white snow” (p. 38). After reflecting on the passage, he provides questions for further reflection and an action step.

Nobodies for Jesus is a book for (1) any Christian who wishes to avoid a tendency toward lukewarm Christianity, and (2) particular Christians who sense a personal deficiency in their desire or ability to share the gospel. It is a quick read and very accessible, serving perfectly as study material for a church or Christian study group. Highly recommended.

On Scripture Meditation

In the circles in which I run, many folks seem nervous about meditation, mostly because they equate meditation with anti- or sub-Christian practices. This is understandable. A quick walk through the “Self Help” or “Religion” section at a Barnes and Noble will demonstrate that meditation is all the rage, regardless of one’s religious convictions. Some forms of meditation are, at best, unhelpful, and at worst, likely diabolical. But we must not thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. As earlier generations of evangelicals understood, there definitely is a place for meditation as a spiritual discipline. Specifically, evangelicals should be willing to make meditation on the Scriptures a regular part of their personal devotional habits.

In his book An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, Andy Davis notes the importance of Scripture meditation (p. 246):

Few things are as fruitful and productive as a consistent pattern of meditation on Scripture, for by filling our minds with verses, we automatically push out impurity. This kind of meditation is simply deep, repetitive thinking on passages of Scripture, mulling them over in our minds to draw out the full truth, connecting them to other truths, applying them deeply to our own lives. Psalm 1 speaks of the blessedness of the man who constantly meditates on the word of God, likening him to a tree planted by streams of water, constantly fruitful (Psalm 1:2–3).

God Who Draws Near

In his book The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction to Biblical SpiritualityMichael Haykin agrees on the importance of Scripture meditation. Nevertheless, many Christians have no idea how to go about adding meditation to their normal devotional routine. Haykin offers nine helpful suggestions about biblical meditation (pp. 66-67), which I have summarized below:

  1. Find a place of quiet and solitude
  2. Approach meditation from a submissive, God-centered frame of mind
  3. Have a plan for consistently reading the Scriptures
  4. Cultivate the discipline of Scripture memorization
  5. Read aloud the Scriptures you are meditating upon multiple times
  6. Set aside the necessary time to read and meditate on the Scriptures
  7. Consider using a hymnal as an aid in Scripture meditation
  8. Ask questions of the biblical text to stimulate your meditation
  9. Move from meditation on the Scriptures to prayer arising from the Scriptures

I appreciate this list very much. In my own experience, I have found that reading the Scriptures aloud and praying through the Scriptures I’ve been reading to be very meaningful ways to meditate on the text and make sure I’m not just reading for the sake of acquiring more biblical knowledge. (The latter is especially tempting for those of us with some theological education.)

If you are interested in learning for a past evangelical who made meditation a central spiritual discipline in his own walk with Christ, check out Kyle Strobel’s stellar book Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards (IVP, 2013). If you want to read some practical advice on meditating on Scripture, check out this nifty handout by Don Whitney.