Monday, December 02, 2013

BookPastor >> "Jesus+Nothing=Everything"

This review was first published in January 25th, 2012 at Panorama of a Book Saint. 


TITLE: Jesus + Nothing = Everything
AUTHOR: Tullian Tchividjian
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2011, (224 pages).

This is Tchividjian's (pronounced as 'cha-vi-jin') personal spiritual journey from fear to faith, and from law to grace. The basic conviction behind the book is reflected in the following phrase:

"Jesus plus nothing equals everything."

In a personal confession of how he has intimately filled his faith with other things, he lists his personal pain and struggle as a senior pastor of a merged Church. The crisis leads him to focus more on what it means to live for God. Tchividjian points out powerfully the many different idols that believers have piled up in the name of Christian service. Many people have unwittingly added stuff to Jesus in order to feel that they are accomplishing everything. The result is a works-based kind of service that basically scorns the work of Christ at the Cross.

In 6 parts, Tchividjian dissects the human problem. In Part One, Tchivijian goes through a period of painful self-examination and make powerful observations about how trapped believers are, in wanting to do everything apart from God's strength. In Part Two, he guides readers in going beyond intellectual faith, toward heart-work and soul-search. In Part Three, he points out succinctly the many barriers which Christians often either fail to recognize, or unwittingly place before themselves, that prevent them from following Christ more truthfully. Part Four exposes the painful reality where Tchividjian does spiritual surgery to expose not so much of our sins, but how much we need Christ. Thankfully, Part Five makes a redemptive turn toward hope. With Christ as our focus, not only will we get everything we need for this life, we get more. This chapter is worth the price of the book.

Closing Thoughts

I like the way he points out how many Christians focus too much on fruit that they ignore the roots of the problem. Grace is the root, while peace is the fruit. I enjoy the way he exposes the three deadly sins in the lives of many Christians: 'legalism, performancism, and moralism' (45). The book flows intuitively from sin to grace to hope. Along the way, the author makes some rather bold statements, especially the part about the Christian life that needs to be 'better' than simply imitating Christ. While I appreciate his point about going beyond imitating to 'be crucified, buried, and raised with him,' I think true imitation of Christ is already inclusive of all those. Maybe, Tchividjian finds it necessary to break the verbs up. Personally, I think it is unnecessary. Thomas a Kempis, who wrote the classic work, 'Imitation of Christ' sums up all the theology and Christian actions in one word: Imitation of Christ.

I think we can do no more than what Christ has done. Tchividjian has given us a wonderful book to help readers move from legalism-performancism-moralism to grace and peace. Our Christian living needs to reflect a grace that embraces all of Jesus and no idols. That is God's will for our everything in life. 

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provide to me free by Crossway Books and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All comments above are freely given.

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