The Glorious Pursuit by Gary L. Thomas
In the excellent tradition of NAVPRESS, The Glorious Pursuit is a great encouragement for Christian discipleship. The subtitle, “Embracing the Virtues of Christ,” tells us the direction which the subject material will take. Author, Gary L. Thomas, explores the virtues of humility, surrender, generosity, patience, thankfulness, gentleness, obedience, etc. for followers of Jesus Christ. There are 14 such virtues that are discussed.
Gary L Thomas is the founder of the Center for evangelical spirituality, a publishing and speaking ministry that integrates Scripture, church history, and the Christian Classics. His writing is deep, practical and insightful.
The idea behind the book is that in order to grow in our faith we must be consciously thinking about the curriculum that the Holy Spirit has for us.
“While salvation is a work that is done entirely within God’s mercy and without human effort (Romans 9:16), growth in Christ involves a cooperation between God and his children (1 John 3:3; Philippians 2:12 – 13)” (p. 19). As we do this, God’s purposes in our Christian life are fulfilled. “The virtues are, quite literally, God’s sculpting tools by which he shapes us into the image of his Son” (p. 22). Thomas tells us that these virtues are “the bridge between the forces of God’s choice to empower and transform us and our choice to take the right attitudes about it. Apart from Christ, these qualities are lifeless cardboard replicas – an adaptation of the world’s version of do’s and don’ts. But within the context of faith, the spiritual principles can literally reshape a life” (pp. 39, 40).
Thomas begins his expiration of the virtues with two chapters about humility, the only virtue that is covered into chapters. The reason for beginning here is that “teaching and modeling the outer disciplines without the inner disciplines inevitably creates gifted but empty and proud Christians” (p. 49). The author gives us a healthy reminder of what humility before God is all about. “Humility is entering into the life of Christ through a radical God dependence. It’s an inner orientation of actively receiving from God and acknowledging our need. The humble Christian is the Christian who takes literally Christ’s words: ‘apart from me you can do nothing’” (p. 49). “Humility is the disposition that makes us available to be blessed by God” (p. 50). According to Thomas, the first step in practicing humility is “switching our focus from ourselves to the grander of God’s greatness” (p. 59).
I find it very helpful for my own spiritual journey to have a book such as The Glorious Pursuit among those on my active reading shelf. My favorite chapters were the two on humility, the one called “Resting in the Current” which is about surrender, and the one called “Pure Perception” which is about discernment. I highly recommend this book to help others in their spiritual growth as it did me.