Discipleship in the Post-Radical Era

I first heard Jared Wilson speak at a Shepherd’s 360 conference in Cary, North Carolina. I had heard of him prior to that, but had not engaged with his writings or heard him speak. He struck me as a speaker who was intently focused on the text and very self-aware. His self-deprecation about his “seeker sensitive” years was extremely helpful in building bridges with his audience. Too often, speakers (especially conference speakers and megachurch speakers) exude a veneer that makes the average person sitting in the congregation wonder if the speaker ever actually struggles with sin. Wilson was a refreshing change from that.

In his 2017 book The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People who Can’t Get Their Act Together, Wilson has written the discipleship book that I wish I had read when I was a teenager. Discipleship trends and fads come and go (think Radical and Crazy Love), but these are often Gospel-fueled, not Gospel centered. In other words, David Platt challenged us in Radical with what he believed the implications of the gospel are in the life of the believer. And while trying to decide whether to live in a house with indoor plumbing or donate that money to missions and instead live in a shanty with an outhouse spoke to a lot of people (and helped to put the meaning of true sacrifice into context for a generation of people whose greatest challenge was not getting their Starbucks order right), it wasn’t sustainable. Not because it wasn’t helpful, but because it wasn’t centered in the text.

Discipleship at its core is the process of Christians becoming more like Jesus. But we struggle. We are broken, sinful, inconsistent people. Wilson writes to people just like us. He takes spiritual disciplines and makes them accessible. He is real about that fact that followers of Jesus are going to struggle. He deals with the process of repentance when we do fall and the hope that the Gospel gives us to keep walking with Christ. He weaves deeply rooted theological truth with very practical help for those who want to follow Jesus but find themselves battling inconsistency. He acknowledges that weakness that is endemic to the human frame while not excusing or minimizing sin.

In short, Wilson has written a book that is accessible to almost anyone, and is tied directly to the Gospel. If you struggle with consistency in your Christian walk (and you probably do), I would strongly commend this book to you. Wilson does an excellent job of trying to help Christians be more like Jesus, one day at a time.