Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review of Hidden In Christ by James Bryan Smith

Hidden in Christ

Hidden in Christ: Living as God's Beloved
by James Bryan Smith
ISBN 978-0-8308-3575-1
IVP Formatio
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I remember the first time I really fell in love with the book of Colossians. I was on a planning team for a regional youth event for my denomination in the northwestern part of the United States. And as the team that was planning the event, we decided to use Colossians 3 as our theme passage. We actually used the text from The Message, which seemed to strike me especially powerfully. The first two verses say, 
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. (Col. 3:1-2 MSG)
After this conference, I would return to this passage again. And, indeed to the whole book. I would remember my childhood preacher speaking about all of the "alls" in Colossians 1, and I would be moved.

As I got to be a preacher, and I wanted to speak to my congregation about the power of Christ, and the centrality of Christ in the life of the Church, I very quickly moved to the book of Colossians.

Most of chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Colossans teach about the power of Christ. In Chapter 3, the book makes a meaningful transition. Colossians Chapter 3 begins to teach about how to live in the grace and power of Christ as a believer. It is fitting then, as James Bryan Smith begins to teach more about how to live in Christ, that he creates a meditation on the truths that are contained in Colossians 3:1-17.

Hidden in Christ is a devotional really, but a devotional that really packs a punch. In this book Dr. Smith takes 30 words or phrases in seventeen short verses that bring out a truth that believers are called to live in. 

This book is wisely organized. In each chapter, there are some thoughts on the truth that is communicated by each small word. Then there is an "affirmation" or a sentence to meditate on that helps the reader take the truth of the passage with them through the day or week. Sometimes another spiritual practice is included. A prayer is added at the end of each chapter to help believers pray the truth into their lives, and then there are some brief thoughts and questions to reflect on. I have been reading a chapter a day, but the book could easily be used for a once a week devotional as well. 

I have been eagerly anticipating the next book from James Bryan Smith for months. This book is well worth the wait. It is a book you can read over and over again, and get more out of it as you go. And it is a book, that if you take it seriously, can change your heart and move you to worship. 

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