Recently, I’ve struggled through some bouts of anxiety and panic. And, it has comeÂ out of nowhere.Â It has been very frustrating. And confusing.Â ItÂ has been years since those episodes of fear have hit me like they have recently.
During this time of fear and frustration, I’ve started reading some books that have been incredibly helpful. I wanted to take some time to share some of these books, some quotes from them and how they have been so helpful for me during this time.
Before jumping into my first book review, let me clarify something that’s very important. It is not the books, nor the authors, nor the information in these booksÂ that holds the answer to finding peace and freedom. These books point to Christ, and teach people how to see themselves “in Christ”, and what that means to walk that out.
Many people experience fear, panic, confusion, depression and so many other mentalÂ struggles because they try so hard to live life in their own strength and effort. These books have been such a ray of hope and encouragement because they are showing me that life “in Christ” is effortless, stressless, and victorious. That is why I want to share these resources with you.
The book I first want to review is called The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel Has Worn You Out
This book has been a cornerstone book for me when it comes to understanding what it means to live “in Christ” and how that plays out. And, the concept is radically different that what most churches teach. Most sermons today focus on us. “Bless me, help me, prosper me, me, me, me…” but this narcissistic mindset is extremely unhealthy. So much fear, depression and anxiety is because we’ve become so “me-focused”. Listen to how the author describes this dilemma:
Itâ€™s easy to live as if we are the center of the universe. We would never say it, or even think it consciously, but we can live as if God is here for us. That has come across in a lot of “Christian” teaching. God is here to bless you. You ought to be rich. You ought to be prosperous. Itâ€™s your due to be successful. Itâ€™s your due to get ahead. God has to respond to your faith. God has obligated Himself to bless you if you do the right things. All of which means what? You are the center of the universe. (p. 12)
Once we learn how to stop focusing on me and focus on what God wants us to focus on, we will begin to experience the fruits of the Spirit:Â love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (GalatiansÂ 5:22-23).
Godâ€™s plan was to bring into being a host of sons and daughters whom He would indwell, through whom He would live and manifest Himself, and in and through whom Christ would reign supreme. We are the beneficiaries of that plan. God, in His love and grace, has made us a part of His plan. But we are not the center of it; Christ is. (p. 13)
The author shares his personal story of trying to “live for Jesus”, but coming to his wits end:
I had known Christ for me. I had known Christ with me. I had begun to experience the concept of Christ in me, but I hadnâ€™t yet experienced Christ as me, expressing His life as me. Rather, it was Christ in me to help me become something. To make something out of me. And I had come to my end. Over the years, I had gradually concluded that I couldnâ€™t pull off living the Christian life. I was a failure at it… I saw that, regardless of how much I loved God, given the right circumstances I was capable of anything. Trying to live in my own strength for God, or even trying to live with His help, I was still a dangerous creature in this world. It was the love of God to show me that I couldnâ€™t live the Christian life no matter how hard I tried.Â (pp. 22-23)
At the end of his rope, he came to this conclusion that he couldn’t live the Christian life. Only Christ could. And, this revelation is what transformed his life into one full of peace, joy and purpose.
I was absolutely convinced I couldnâ€™t live the Christian life, not the way the Bible described it. Now I realized, Christ can. Iâ€™ll let Him live it in me. It was a revelation from the Holy Spirit.Â (p. 24)
The author spends the rest of the book sharing howÂ heÂ grew intoÂ this life in Christ, and what it means to walk in this wholly, dependent relationship. It’s not a matter of doing it this way or doing it that way–it’s really about changing the way you think, pray and connect with your Father in heaven.
As I mentioned earlier, this book has been foundational for me regardingÂ this new heavenly perspective. It’s the kind of book that you will want to read slowly and methodically, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate these deep truths.
I’m convinced that this life “in Christ” is the key to peace and freedom!