I’m a bit of a fits and starts reader when it comes to ‘proper’ books. My mother says I have ‘narrative hunger’, which means I will read a crisp packet just to keep words flowing through my head. These days the internet seems to fill that gap, and my reading of books has dropped off. But this summer I really enjoyed getting back to real reading and I’m hoping to continue this pattern as the holidays become a dim memory.
The Lord must have known my need to read, and not just read escapist fiction, and so somehow I have ended up convening a small study group of women from our church, two of whom were confirmed just the other weekend. Looking around for a confirmation gift for them, I came across a fairly new book by Australian evangelist John Chapman.
‘Chappo’ is a wonderfully engaging and straightforward communicator and I’ve loved listening to him (sermon tapes on holiness and evangelism) and reading his books (especially ‘Know and Tell the Gospel’) over the years. The book I chose for our friends – and then this little group – is called ‘A Foot in Two Worlds’. Its subtitle is ‘The Joy and Struggle of the Normal Christian Life’.
I’m now two chapters in, and I thought I’d try and summarise my reading on the blog, so I can be really clear when I lead our discussion tonight. The book very helpfully comes with a discussion guide at the back, which is a great boon for my fuzzy head.
The book has only seven chapters, and with the first and last chapters being introduction and summary. This means we should be able to finish it over five sessions, which I think is a manageable course length.
Chapter 1: Christianity is not for wimps
Chappo begins with the joys of the Christian life, reminding us that when we become Christians, God forgets our past, giving us continuous forgiveness and sending the Holy Spirit to live with us.
But he also gives us the full picture:
Right from the beginning, I also found living as a Christian much more difficult than I had imagined… Some days I felt overwhelmed. It seemed an endless grind…
He describes us as ‘people with a foot in two worlds’:
We have one foot firmly planted in this world and, at the same time, one foot planted in the world to come, where everything is perfect.
Chapter 2: This Present World
In his second chapter, Chappo helps us to think about the fallen world we live in, remembering how it is good but fallen, firstly with a brief sweep through Genesis 1-3. He also has a good section on the devil, giving some nicely alliterating points about the Father of Lies:
- He deludes us
- He discourages us
- He denounces us
- He diverts us
- His demise is sure
So he summarises
This…world. While it is good, it isn’t good enough. I am meant to be dissatisfied. Thankfully that isn’t all there is.
I am very much looking forward to discussing this with our little group. Chappo doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of the Christian life, but nor does he ignore its joys. There’s lots to talk about here.