What does Sensing Jesus (Zack Eswine, Crossway, 2013) promise?
Subtitled ‘Life and Ministry as a Human Being’ Eswine seeks to make the point that each person is apprenticing themselves to a rule, a way of life; and to provide tools for recognizing Jesus and seeking his apprenticing of the lives of his disciples (pg 290).
What I liked.
Weaving together autobiographical elements and finely crafted prose, Eswine illustrates the danger of disciples of Jesus mistakenly substituting themselves for Jesus in the lives of others, or seeking what only Jesus can provide from relationships and circumstances.
This is not a book to be rushed through, instead it invites a measured reading. The pastor’s own soul and walk with Jesus is explored in depth; and then the relational process by which the pastor encourages others to identify what Jesus is already doing in their lives and circumstances is unfolded.
Sensing Jesus challenges pastors, and Christians, not to pretend they are God: Father, Son, or Spirit; but instead to recognise our limitations and seek the revelation of God which is afforded to us in all of life’s circumstances and relationships.
The temptation to be everywhere, to know everything, and to be able to control every situation is shown for the (well-meaning, though gospel-defeating) idolatry which it is, allowing the pastor to embrace the art of encouraging people to accept Jesus’ discipling of them instead of the science of encouraging their dependence upon pastor or self.
The challenges about needing to set down roots in a place to effectively minister; the admonition against placeless ambition; the challenge of seeing trials as watchdogs that warn about impatience; the lesson that God is always there before we arrive; and, above all, that there is no guarantee that having the right words to say will result in the outcome we desire all resonate in that troubling manner that comes when one remembers that discipleship of Jesus is not something we master but which has to master us.
What I’m not sure about.
How ministry could have been different if I’d read this book twenty years ago.
I’d love to read more from Eswine about how this intentionality could be built into something like a retreat group.
Sensing Jesus is a heartfelt corrective to isolating pastoral ministry from following Jesus and Christian discipleship as being distinct from life. The earlier a pastor reads this as they prepare for ministry the better. Anyone who thinks about healthy Christian discipleship and encouraging others will benefit from reading it too.
The review copy of Sensing Jesus was provided by Crossway Publishing as part of their blog review program.
Provision of the book did not require the publication of a positive review.