Best Book Of 2011

Like I mentioned in my last post, January is when I tend to do some reflecting on the past year.

In this post I want to tell you about my favorite book from 2011: Tim Keller’s King’s Cross

It’s hard to really articulate how much I’ve appreciated this book.

The flow of the book is as a very short commentary on the Gospel of Mark.

In short, Keller goes through Mark, and writes a few pages of exposition on each story told.

But more comprehensively, he turns the traditional understanding of almost every story on its head.

He shows how every story is really about us, and our need for the Gospel, and how Jesus consistently pointed our need for something that only He could every provide.

This book is so densely saturated in the Gospel!

Even after reading through the whole book, I can still pick it up, turn to almost any page, and find a challenge to my pride and yet a hope for my soul.

I keep writing and then deleting examples because any one paragraph doesn’t get the point across…

For what it’s worth, here’s an example from today:

He’s in the end of Mark 10, where the disciples – James and John in particular – ask Jesus if they can sit on His left and right hand in glory.

Basically, they are asking to be vice president and CEO of Jesus’ Kingdom.

Jesus responds that they do not understand what they are asking. He asks, “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptized with?” Of course, we know that He was talking about going to the cross, but the disciples didn’t, and they responded affirmatively.

Keller goes into some detail dissecting this, but he eventually ties this passage to humility. Referring to how the disciples didn’t understand that Jesus was going to establish His kingdom not through power, but through sacrifice, he says:

Because God’s manner of revelation is characterized by hiddenness, reversal, and surprise, those who follow Jesus find themselves repeatedly failing to understand the will of God… [therefore] there can be no place for smugness or dogmatism…
If our sensibilities are formed by this narrative, we will learn not to take ourselves too seriously; we will be very self-critical and receptive to unexpected manifestations of God’s love and power…
When you see how James and John respond [to Jesus], and you realize how hard it is for anybody to take in the magnitude of what the cross really means, you will be on your way to attaining the gift of humility.
At some level, your normal assumptions, your pride and your egotistical way of thinking, are blinding you to the truth.

The application that Keller comes back to over and over again is simply: stop looking at yourself and your circumstances and the people around you and start focusing on Jesus and His redemptive work.

Surrender to grace.

I know I will read this again and again.