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.
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. More information can be found about this and other Christian audiobooks at christianaudio.com.