It’s not always easy being a seminarian, or a Christian for that matter. Jared Wilson helps.
Look, he didn’t ask me to write this, and I know it probably doesn’t help the whole “young evangelicals idolizing those they look up to” thing, but I just wanted to be honest about how I feel. I started reading Jared’s books freshman year of college. I just finished Supernatural Power for Everyday People late last night. I feel thankful for all he has taught me through his writing, and I don’t think you should miss out on Jared’s new book. Or any of his old ones.
No, really. Let me explain what I mean. I’ve been studying at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for three semesters and counting, and oftentimes it feels like the pressure to be simultaneously unmatched in both holiness and brilliance hasn’t let up. No matter where I turn, there is always a challenge to be more God-like or more God-knowledgable. At healthy God-glorifying seminaries, there are no shortage of good examples.
Part of the pressure of seminary is what makes it so valuable — eager young ministers must be pushed towards excellence in the study and in the prayer closet, not coddled into complacency — and for that I am infinitely grateful. For all the times where my Godly and dedicated professors and colleagues have pushed me away from lukewarmness, I praise God for saving me from future mediocracy in his service. But for all the times when I feel worn down by comparison and fatigued by self-imposed impossible standards, Jared’s writing has blessed me.
Jared tends to write with a kind of gentle conviction that is refreshing. He doesn’t pull punches, but his blows feel more light; a firm but loving nudge, the kind of butt-whupping that a sparring partner might give, not a rival. Sometimes painful, but deeply personal. He doesn’t lower the standard, not at all, yet it always feels more attainable, like a cooperative pursuit instead of a solo mission. Less Jason Bourne, more Sherlock and Watson, with the “Elementary!” remarks tinged with kindness and personal experience.
In other words, Jared writes pastorally. His pen oozes with care for the unknown, perhaps struggling, reader. It seems like he assumes that the reader is prone to struggling, which is so beneficial to fickle hearts like mine who tend to find insecurities and sins piling up in my heart like un-fetched newspapers. That kind of real pastoral precision means deep encouragement for the Christian who might struggle with measuring up. Which is all of us! All his works beat with this shepherd’s heart: Gospel Deeps is rich theology for the dropouts; The Pastor’s Justification is ministry for the doubters; The Imperfect Disciple is soul-care for the weary sinner. I could go on, because there is always a steady stream of words to enjoy.
His new book Supernatural Power for Everyday People is no different. I just finished it, and you should pick up a copy. And read it. With Jared’s usual careful conviction, Supernatural is a needed reminder that every Christian is a walking conundrum without the Holy Spirit’s power. He touches topics you would expect on the often neglected third member of the trinity — prayer, fasting, conviction, gifts and guidance — but he also surprises you. As it turns out, the Spirit also has something to say about our relationships, our church life, our depression, our assurance, our obedience; about companionship, selflessness, sacrifice, community, reconciliation, salvation, and cosmic redemption. This book hits the mark because it is ultimately about just being a Christian, but it avoids at all costs the premise that following Jesus is attainable by moral, Holy Spiritless religious folk. Instead, Supernatural is fueled by the premise that following Jesus is attainable, because God graciously gives his Spirit to unworthy sinners (I always knew Bill would get there in the end). The best part about this book? It makes crystal clear that all that is required for life transforming supernatural power is to “repent of your sin and place your faith in Christ Jesus.” Or, in Wilson-speak: “Fire the board members at that conference table in your soul, knock down all the cubicle walls, and open yourself up to the fullness of Christ’s love for every square inch of your life”.
Before this ends simply as an fanboy rant, let me just say this: you should read Jared Wilson. He is beneficial not just to young foolish seminarians, but to any Christian who hasn’t yet reached heaven. But don’t read him for how good you think his prose is, or even how encouraged you feel when you read. Read him because he always writes about Jesus. The reason Jared’s writing seems like a breathe of fresh air is because it points to Jesus Christ, who wasn’t kidding when he said his yoke is easy and his burden is light. The more we get to know Jesus, the more we realize Christian living is more about resting and believing and less about getting up and proving. The Son of God definitely doesn’t lower the required measurement for entrance to his kingdom, but he does totally fulfill it for all those needy enough to repent and believe. We should take Jesus seriously when he says he has come “not to bring peace, but a sword”, but we likewise should wise up when he says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I think I speak for many when I say, thanks Jared Wilson. You’ve helped a whole slew of young screw-ups like me realize the stark and world-changing difference between working constantly to measure up and continually working to rest on our unfailingly perfect savior.
Keep writing, brother. It helps.