Also published as God’s Pursuit of Man.
Wow, I don’t even really know where to begin with this book. It is so incredibly challenging and thought-provoking. It should come with a warning label – Don’t Read Unless You Are Ready to Be Convicted and Change Your Life.
I don’t mean to be rude or exclusive, but this is really a book for Christians. I don’t see a non-Christian taking anything away from it, other than, perhaps, the urge to learn more about this mystery that is the relationship between man and God. But Tozer is primarily writing to people who have at least a basic knowledge of Christianity – although he will challenge you to consider what exactly “being a Christian” means in real life as well.
Each chapter is a little essay, and they all build together to a cohesive overall message. Tozer begins by discussing different aspects of the Christian faith, and how willing we are, as a rule, to “settle” for just sort of a cow-like behavior of coming to church when we’re supposed to, sitting in the pews, and then going home. However, Tozer reminds us that becoming a Christian means accepting the Word means inviting an external force to change who we are from the inside out.
The argument of this book is the essential interiority of true religion. I expect to show that if we would know the power of the Christian message our nature must be invaded by an Object from beyond it; that That which is external must become internal; that the objective Reality which is God must cross the threshold of our personality and take residence within.
Tozer reminds his readers, without mincing words, that becoming something means that you are changing, and changing means that you also are un-becoming things.
It is impossible to travel south without turning one’s back upon the north. One cannot plant until he has plowed nor move forward until he has removed the obstacles before him.
In this day and age of constant fear of offending people, reading this book was like a drink of cool water on a hot day. Tozer says flat out that, “Whatever stands in the way of spiritual progress I have felt it my duty to oppose,” and he does it firmly and without apology.
There is so much in this book. I’ve underlined scores of passages. After a few chapters of talking about turning one’s life around, Tozer begins to remind his readers that God does not expect us to do this on our own – and the rest of the book is devoted to the Holy Spirit. When I first read this book, circa 2007, I had grown up in the church and attending churches and Bible studies and Sunday School and everything you can think of my entire life. I had embraced the Christian faith as my own as an adult. Yet I realized that I could not recall a single sermon on the topic of the Holy Spirit. Tozer challenges his readers to embrace this aspect of God, not in the speaking-in-tongues-rolling-in-the-aisles way, but the fact that He does indwell the children of God and is there to help us make decisions, to live purely, to understand Scripture. And instead of coming to Him, most of the time we just ignore Him.
Tozer says all of this much, much better than I ever could. If you’re a Christian (or thinking about Christianity), I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I’m still being challenged by it. Tozer’s writing rarely feels dated. Instead, it feels like he is writing today, and writing directly to his reader. It’s like reading a letter from a well-loved but somewhat strict uncle.
Read The Divine Conquest. But only if you’re willing to make some life changes along the way.