For the past six years, I have taught high school Bible at a small Christian school here in Orlando. I also work with college students at a local university you may have heard of. Because of that, I spend a fair amount of time talking to teenagers and 20-something’s about life plans and the future.
Too often, I see students get bogged down asking questions about God’s will for their lives. While I don’t think this is an unimportant thing to be concerned with, there is something a bit more basic that I try to help them focus on.
Jen Wilkin shares my particular concern, and it motivates her writing in In His Image. She recognizes there is a distinction between what God wants us to do and who God wants us to be. She then carefully explains that the order you explore these questions is important:
Wilkin concludes that the hope of the gospel is not that we would just make better choices, but that we would grow into better people. To do that, we need to have a better grasp of who God calls us to be.
If we focus on our actions without addressing our hearts, we may end up merely as better behaved lovers of self. Think about it. What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? A lost person can make “good choices.” But only a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can make a good choice for the purpose of glorifying God. (13–14)
While there are many ways to unpack the biblical teaching on Christian growth, Wilkin chooses to focus on 10 particular attributes of God that we are called to reflect. These are attributes such as holiness, goodness, love, and mercy to name a few. In each chapter, she briefly unfolds the biblical teaching on the attribute. She also intersperses illustrations that make the attributes more understandable. Much of the application work is left to the reader, but the verses and questions at the end of each chapter facilitate the process.
This book complements well Wilkin’s previous book, None Like Him, which focused on the attributes of God we can’t fully reflect. Those are attributes are commonly called the incommunicable attributes, such as omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence to name a few. Her treatment makes it a go-to concise read on a tricky subject.
On the other hand, the attributes in this book are the communicable attributes of God. Wilkin’s clarity of writing makes this a quick read, but it’s a slower process to reflect and apply. And perhaps it’s a process that’s best done in community. As we collectively focus on growing into the people that God wants us to be, we better reflect His image in our relationships and daily rituals. I’m hard pressed to think of a better book for discussing and applying the attributes of God. This one represents another work of the kind of practical theology we could all use.
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