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The Imperfect Disciple

Grace for People Who Can't Get Their Act Together

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Grace and discipleship
In his book The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together, author Jared C. Wilson sets out to write a discipleship book for the rest of us. His assertion is that too many discipleship books are written for people who have it all together, or at least are good at making it look like they do.

This book succeeds because Wilson speaks on a raw, blue collar level, but with the theological chops of a seminary professor. He is both painfully honest about his failures and scholarly in his theological musings. He has a contagious passion for the message of the gospel—he wants this message front and center—and he reminds the reader why this all matters so much in the first place. It all matters because God loves and values people—messy, distracted, petty, wandering people.

Wilson begins every chapter with a metaphor, comparing the gospel to things like a burning ember or a well-worn book. His goal is to lead the reader to understand the gospel on a visceral level, and not just an intellectual level. When Wilson shares from his own life, he is uncomfortably honest about his shortcomings, struggles, and failures. He is very funny, and his humor is often self-deprecating. This also demonstrates to the reader that the gospel is something Wilson lives, not just something he believes or teaches about.

The biblical story he uses to frame this gospel treatise is the controversial, touching conversation recorded in Matthew 15 between Jesus and the Canaanite woman. Is Jesus being mean by calling her a dog, and why does she respond this way? Wilson holds the reader in tension with stories like this, bravely confronting the failure in himself and all of us, while emphasizing the glory of Christ.

I believe the greatest praise I could give this book is that it makes the gospel of Jesus Christ look really, really good. I believe that was Wilson’s goal. One standout chapter is entitled, “The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed,” with the subtitle, “When You Think Church Would Be Better Without All the People.” This chapter is one of the best visions of church life I have ever read or heard. As a church leader, my soul was encouraged. Also, the last chapter, “Lurv Wins,” stands alone as a beautiful essay on the unfathomable love of God.

Highly recommended.

Steven Roy Grimsley does a great job of narrating the audiobook version.

Please Note: This audiobook was gifted as a part of the Christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for my unbiased review of this work. This has in no way influenced my opinion or review of this work.
Overall
Review by / (Posted on 6/21/2017)
Excellent reminder that the gospel is not about perfection
Are you tired of the “10-steps to being a better Christian” or perhaps the “Share if you like Jesus” social media posts that make you want to unfriend everyone? Everyone is. In The Imperfect Disciple, Jared Wilson, in a snarky yet sobering style reminds us of the liberating truths about the that we often exchange for a lies. This book is for the legalist in all of us. What is a legalist? Cover ArtSomeone who is “seeking to achieve forgiveness from GOD and acceptance by GOD through my obedience to GOD.” {CJ Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life}. This book covers issues with consumer Christianity, what it means to contextualize your faith from looking good but being broken, fear of man, to everyone’s struggle with their faith. The summaries found around the web, describe it well, “The Imperfect Disciple is a discipleship book for people who are a little tired of discipleship books. This one is for the rest of us -- people who screw up, people who are weary, people who are often wondering in church if it's safe to say what they're really thinking. For the believer who is tired of quasi-spiritual "lifehacks" and fuzzy "fortune cookie" spirituality, here is a discipleship book that isn't afraid to be honest about the mess we call real life.”

I listened to this audiobook two times and was amazed of the things I missed the first time around. For instance, chapter two discussed the sermon on the mount, beatitudes, and psychobabble Christian leadership books! As I spend some time in the car with my work, I enjoy having audiobooks that challenge me and remind of the gospel, and this did not disappoint. The narrator of the audio although not the author, made the book interesting and engaging. I found the book to be refreshing, interesting, challenging, inspiring, and enlightening.

It reminded me of how hard I try to be in control, fear others, look elsewhere and try to prove myself. It also felt like I was listening to a younger Steve Brown, in that he was also very pastoral and earthy real with the topics discussed. Jared challenges the way we do discipleship and the way we do “Christianity” and then pokes us with the reminder that it is all about grace. I appreciated his humor and vernacular when describing the Christian culture, and then grounding us in the scripture to remind us that not much is different from the first century church. I found the audio book to be presented in a cohesive, yet down to earth, messy manner. Something that is rare today in the publishing world of ‘every author sounds the same.” Jared successfully saturates this work in biblical truth and gives transparent illustrations from his own life to drive the points home. I highly recommend this book to any other Imperfect Disciples – those of us who struggle to keep our act together.

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Disclaimer

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the christianaudio.com review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Overall
Review by / (Posted on 6/4/2017)
A Masterful Work Which Will Leave No Reader Untouched
Jared C. Wilson works at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I am currently a graduate student. As one of the few non Baptists there and the only blind person, as well as a woman called to a ministry of preaching and music, it can at times be somewhat difficult to feel fully a part of that community despite wonderful friends and scholarly study. This book makes me so grateful and proud to be a part of MBTS, rather than merely a student passing through its halls only to pass back out when I am finished. The truth spoken in this audiobook goes as deep as the soul itself. It is more friendly, more beautiful, and more real than anything I have read in quite some time. One cannot read or listen to this book and remain unchanged. Certainly I did not. This book is like a mirror to me in so many ways, showing the real me, not a pretty picture. Yet it also shows the unspeakable love that God shows losers such as myself and all of those who call upon His Name. To return to my first point, as a non Baptist, I read this book and do not feel as can so often happen in the seminary environment, singled out or isolated because I am not affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Anyone within the Christian faith can and will be shaped and formed by this masterful work.
Overall
Review by / (Posted on 5/21/2017)
Encouragement and Grace
Listening to this audiobook was such an encouragement to me. I am definitely one "who can't get their act together" but that's ok. Jared reminded me over and over again that there is grace. And grace is Jesus. And because of Jesus there is hope and help in this world and an eternity with Him in the next. If you are needing encouragement, please take some time and listen to this book. You'll be glad you did!

*I received a free audio copy of this work from ChristianAudio.com as part of their reviewers program.
Overall
Review by / (Posted on 5/19/2017)
A Practical Example of God's Grace in Discipleship
This book is absolutely indispensable for the Christian who never seems to quite fit the mold of a regular disciple. It is especially helpful for those who grew up in the church and somehow missed grace through all the formalism and legalism. The subtitle of this book cuts straight to the heart: Grace for people who can't get their act together. The book is mildly autobiographical. Wilson shares about how he experienced grace through many good and bad times in his life. His story is also mine, and I am willing to bet that we are not alone. As he says in the introduction, this is a book written for normal people. It is less about what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus and more what to expect while being a disciple. With candid personal illustrations and a witty sense of humor, Wilson weaves the grace of God through every nook and cranny of this work. It literally drips with God's grace for imperfect, undeserving, and can't-quite-measure-up people. He reinforces the truth that we are defined not by what we do or fail to do but rather who Jesus says we are. I had the opportunity of hearing Wilson speak about beholding the glory of God, which is represented in chapter 3 of this book. It was powerful then and it is powerful now. Read this book and be encouraged by the grace of God for imperfect people, which includes you and me. I received this audiobook from christianaudio in exchange for an honest review.
Overall
Review by / (Posted on 5/18/2017)
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