Last September I reviewed another of these collections of Tozer’s sermons, Living as a Christian, and the beginning of my review of that book summarizes a bit about Tozer himself and how Snyder came to be going through his sermons and turning them into collections of essays. Reclaiming Christianity is another of these sermon/essay collections that I was picking up now and then throughout the spring. While they are loosely connected because of their common theme, each chapter is a complete lesson unto itself.
Tozer is always a challenge to read. He isn’t afraid to shine a bright light on things we’d rather keep hidden – don’t read Tozer if you aren’t willing to face the fact that you probably have several areas of your life that you conveniently ignore and hope they just go away on their own. But, as Tozer says, “The epistles do not advise; they command,” and Tozer reminds his readers that if you have claimed your place as a child of God, you are now bound to a life of continuing maturity and purity – the Scripture is no longer just some suggestions.
And while Tozer definitely plays hardball, he never comes through as condescending. He writes like an older brother, or a sage old grandfather – someone who wants to help you avoid the mistakes that he’s made and is willing to take your hand and help you through. It is so obvious that his words spring from love – love of God, and love of the brethren.
I think the way that Tozer reminds his readers that accepting Christ is only the first step of a process is really excellent. While it is THE step that grants you a place in heaven, it isn’t genuine unless it changes other aspects of our lives as well.
We have people showing us that we ought not to be holier than thou, but that we ought to say, ‘We are the same as you, only we have a Savior.’
This would be like two men dying on hospital beds in the same ward and one saying to the other, ‘I have what you have but the only difference between us is that I have a physician and you don’t.’
You could not interest a dying man in another man who is so well off because he had a physician. If the physician could not cure the fellow, what was the good of the physician? …
If I go to a sinner and say, “I am exactly the same as you, the only difference is that I have a Savior,’ but I do all the same things he does – I tell the same dirty jokes he tells and I waste my time the same way he does and I do everything he does – and then I say, ‘I have a Savior, you out to have a Savior,’ doesn’t he have the right to ask me what kind of Savior I have? What profit is there for a man to say, ‘I have a physician’ if he is dying on a cot? What does it profit a man to say, ‘I have a Savior’ if he is living in iniquity?
Tozer isn’t a read for the faint of heart or for those not willing to be challenged. He does not soften his words or sugarcoat anything. But if you are looking for more depth and grit in your Christian walk, you would be hard pressed to find a better place to start.
NB: Not actually one of my #20BooksofSummer. Ah well. ;-)