The Crucified Life, by A. W. Tozer
To be honest, I didn’t like this book that much. :) I have given a 3-star review of this book in Goodreads and would not recommend unless you have never read A. W. Tozer before, as it was my case. In this case, it’s worth to at least have an overview of his way of thinking and writing.
He starts the book teaching us that you cannot be a Christian and not have God as a priority. Unless you put God as the first thing in your life, you are not living a true Christian life. What does that mean? First of all, you need to have a relationship with Jesus, but you know this is something you found in several other authors and preachers in the church. Nothing new. His argument is that a relationship with Jesus means a fully religious mind, i.e. everything you do needs to be in order to glorify Christ, as a kind of offering (I know “religious” is almost a forbidden word nowadays and always comes as something bad, but let’s stick with that, maybe I can write about this in another time).
Our difficulty is that we have a secular mind and a religious mind. With the secular mind, we do most everything that we do, and then we have a little private party for what we call the religious minds. With our religious mind we try to serve the Lord the best we can. It does not work that way. The Christian should not have any secular mind at all. If you are a Christian, you should “seek the things that are above” — there should be no worldly mind in you. Some might ask, “How can I pursue my studies? How can I do my housework? How can I carry on my business?” You carry on your business, do your housework and pursue your studies by making them a part of an offering to God as certainly as the money you put in the offering plate or anything else you give openly and publicly to God.
Then he continues criticizing the contemporary church by reminding us we should not seek to be greater than others inside the church, to be known, and to have people following you. That is really a good point and, unfortunately, this is something that happens a lot around us. Whenever we become more connected to God, we are tempted to consider ourselves better and deserving something from him. It is possible to be holy in the eyes of the people and do not have a crucified life. It is better to lose your reputation in order to get closer to God, than to have a high reputation among men, but no connection with Jesus.
First, living the crucified life involves completely forsaking the world. Second, the crucified life means turning fully to the Lord Jesus Christ. […] It is possible to be religious and not forsake the world. It is possible to forsake the world in body yet never forsake it in spirit. It is possible to forsake the world externally and still be worldly inside. Yet nobody can be a Christian in the right sense of the word until he has forsaken the world.
That is a major danger when you are starting a crucified life: “He wills that we should be holy. So why don’t we strive to be holy? The major problem is that we like ourselves too much.” And Tozer continues by saying religious ambition usually obscures the face of God and moves our attention to the wrong place. “The question is, are you willing to take down the veils of pride and stubbornness, self-will, religious ambition, ownership claims, fear, money, friendships and societal position?”, that is a difficult one. We need to get off God’s way and let He be Himself.
We do not allow God to be Himself. We have lost all sense of knowing God as He is, and consequently we try to make God out to be what He is not. Instead of accepting the fact that we were created in His image, we have deteriorated to the point of believing that God has been created in our image.
The last part of the book is named “The Blessings of the crucified life”, but I think Tozer forgets about this when he is writing, as he usually talks about the real blessing only in the last words of each chapter. He starts with the beauty aspect of the divine exchange: our old selves with so many problems, for our new selves, which are Christ-like. Then he talks about revivals and a good thought on how revivalists start in loneliness, and we should not be worried if others around us are not willing to live a crucified life. It is necessary to have a personal revival in order to have a church revival. And it is necessary to have a church revival in order to have a community revival. So, we need to start within ourselves and later on we can see the glory of God in our communities.
Maybe God is calling you to do something extraordinary, something that does not appear on your calendar or agenda, something to revive your own soul. Maybe God is calling you to do something radical and extreme for your soul. I hope and pray that the world and the pleasures of it are not so great that you are unable to hear Him. The biggest thing in the world is not whether you live to be 100 years old; the biggest thing in the world is whether you can hear God speaking to you now. That is what counts.
Wherever we are in the journey, it is important to remember “It has a beginning, of course, but the end is never this side of glory.” The reason why we should not seek for reputation here, nor to be too comfortable in this life, is because the end is in God’s presence in heaven.
In the kingdom of God, everyone will speak the same language of which the keynote will be: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive glory and power and wisdom and might and honor” (see Rev. 4:11).
Hope you had a good time reading this!
Please, leave your comments below with questions or considerations about the book, the blog, or whatever it’s in your mind. I’ll do more of these in the future and my next book will probably be Miracles by C. S. Lewis, so stay tuned. I continue to read the book “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” and it has been amazing, learning a lot of stuff about philosophy and having a great time. However, not sure if I will be able to write something about the book, since it is like a textbook, not that good to do a summary like this.