Book review: Living Faithfully

Living Faithfully: Following Christ in Everyday Life

John Pritchard
SPCK Publishing, April 2013

This is an easy read. I skimmed through it in about 24 hours, enthused and captivated by the challenge laid down to ‘live faithfully’. But of course it is not an ‘easy’ read at all – one of the hardest, most gripping, reads. Every page sends me back to my own life and behaviour, examining my choices, motives, desires and discipleship.

This is not a book about growing in a holy huddle. This is a book about God being the point and purpose of everything we do, and understanding we spend most of our time in an aggressively secular world… our failings, our successes, our humour and our tragedies.

I suspect I found it a thumping good read because it confirmed and echoed many of the things I think are essential ‘fall-out’ from being a Christian. I am commanded to love my neighbour: and so that colours my decisions about how I spend money, vote, work and play in ways others might find extreme. Or perhaps never considered. I was the one raising questions in our PCC about which advertisers our parish magazine should take money from – or sticking with a frustrating but ethical bank – or walking to a supermarket that is slightly less exploitative: because these things need thinking about. And I pay attention to politics and my local community, because these things matter. I sometimes find myself looking askance at other Christians who might be super-spiritual in their own way, but who seem quite happy to conform to the standards of the world when it comes to the latest shiny gadget, or their car, or their designer label clothes. This book would be a challenge for many of them.

Each chapter tackles a particular aspect of life. Money, sex, addiction, death, the environment, the internet, work, church, consumerism and politics, to name a few. We are faced with the problems these may pose. Then taken through some ways of thinking – do we agree with the problem statement? If we do, how might our professed faith be translated into every day life and every day decisions? The chapters conclude with quotations – some funny, some thought-provoking; and then suggestions for Bible study and prayer. So each topic is wrapped up in teaching, thinking and prayer.

Two things would have made me like this book more. First, if it had come with a free gin. Second, if there had been a more in-depth look at living faithfully as a single person. There’s a chapter on relationships and marriage; and there’s a chapter on friendship. And the church is at one point exhorted to think single, not family, as default. But neither quite touch on some of the specific issues around living live on one’s own and some of the other chapters have embedded assumptions about money or family that suggest the default thinking is still about a family unit.

I was honestly gripped by the first few pages. I was unable to stop reading and go to sleep – it was really that inspiring. Now I have this brief review posted, I can go back to the book and digest it slowly; following the suggestions for reflective Bible study and deciding what my rule of life might look like. Do excuse me any failings of spelling or grammar in this piece – I am short of sleep!

Who will I pass this on to? I think @watfordgap would like this. We often find ourselves suitably frustrated by a ‘Christian’ community that is not serving the needs of the community, one that forgets the ‘love your neighbour’ command is ubiquitous.

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