Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Following Jesus: Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety

Author:

Henri J.M. Nouwen (edited by Gabrielle Earnshaw)

Publisher:

Convergent Books

Publication Date:

September 17, 2019

Format:

Hardcover

Length:

192 pages

OVERVIEW

We all live with a certain amount of anxiety. As Nouwen comments in this book’s introduction, most of us spend our lives either running around trying to find significance or giving up and deciding nothing really matters in the long run. In this book (based on lectures Nouwen gave during a particularly difficult period), Nouwen suggests the key to overcoming this “wandering and just-sitting-there” is to hear Jesus calling us to follow him. In six seemingly simple but powerful chapters, Nouwen explains

  • How Jesus invites people to follow him
  • What following Jesus closely looks like
  • How Jesus’ love frees us to love others
  • How Jesus’ love shows us how to handle our daily crosses
  • What it means to experience joy in Christ
  • What it means that Jesus’ presence (via the Holy Spirit) is always with his followers

Anyone who grew up in church or has spent a significant time around Christians has probably heard a lot about how Jesus loves them, but the concept rarely feels compelling. The image of a gentle, loving Jesus can seem so cliché. Nouwen overcomes that problem not by trying to make the idea seem cool or sensational but by describing it in simple, meditative terms. His writing skills gives those terms new meaning, a sense of intimacy that most descriptions of God’s love don’t have. By doing so, the book really cuts to the heart of the problem: anxious people not only need to hear Jesus loves them but also get a taste of the peace that Jesus’ love provides.

Nouwen doesn’t pretend that people won’t experience difficulties even after they discover Jesus’ love. He makes it clear that following Jesus is really a perpetual choice, something people must choose to do every day. He even notes how some areas of the Christian life can feel counter-intuitive. When describing joy, he notes how the cross shows us “in the eyes of God the joy is hidden in the center of the sorrow.” By acknowledging these realities, Nouwen creates a picture of Jesus’ love that goes beyond many inspirational Christian writings, showing how that love covers the good and the bad moments.

All things considered this book is exceptional. If you’re going to read one book this year about Christ’s love and how that changes our lives, make it this one.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

Non-Christians trying to understand what it means that God loves them, Christians trying to understand how to follow Jesus more closely. Also highly recommended for readers seeking devotional books.

Christian Impact

This book will guide readers to understand Jesus’s immense love for them in a powerful way that very few books accomplish.

About Cecelia Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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