This is the last book that John Stott will write. This is his 2 Timothy. Indeed, he writes at the end of the book, ‘As I lay down my pen for the last time at the age of eighty-eight…’.
I must admit, I found reading the book a very emotional experience. I have only met John Stott once, but have been heavily influenced, helped and moulded by his books and preaching. ‘The Cross of Christ’ is probably the most important book I have ever read, and his BST commentaries (especially on Ephesians) have been my bread and butter for weekly exposition preparation.
I love this book for 5 reasons:
This book has a clear aim and is set out simply. Stott wants us to know what it means to be a real, radical Christian. He looks at 8 areas that he considers important today, and unpacks each with clarity and logic.
One thing I love about Stott is that he doesn’t waste time or words. Each chapter is short and to the point. There is absolutely no waffle. It would be so easy at his age to go off on tangents and irrelevant stories…but he keeps to the point. If only my sermons were like this book! Richard Coekin is bang on when he comments that this is ‘priceless wisdom for an elderly saint… delivered with his customary economy, clarity and faithfulness.’
Amazingly, for an 88 year old man in a home, Stott writes with the relevance of an urban church planter who writes a trendy blog! One of the main things I have picked up from Stott over the years is that we should have the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. I guess this practice has helped him keep in touch. Indeed, as elderly statesman writing on pluralism, ecology and injustice, he is well informed and balanced….amazing!
This is not an easy read. Stott has nothing to lose and no time to waste. He pulls no punches. I would say that his chapter on ‘Simplicity’ is one of the most important chapters written this Millennium (ok, a slight over statement). The point at which my eyes moistened was his chapter on ‘Dependence’. Recounting breaking his hip and alluding to Jesus’ prophecy over Peter at the end of John , this is Stott at his most personal and honest.
This is the biggest thing to remember. The Context. This is an Anglican in his late 80’s who is in a home! I’ll be honest, if this book was written by an urban church planter who spent 5 hours a day on the Internet surfing blogs, I would think of this book as average. However, the fact that John Stott is able to be so clear and concise on Contemporary and challenging is amazing. I am truly humbled. In light of the who Stott is, this book is BRILLIANT!
I pray and hope that I will have a tenth of his integrity and reality when I am half his age! Say what you will about Stott in your arrogance and shame….but I say this: John Stott has run the race well. He has not been entangled by sin. He has kept the main thing the main thing. He has been a good and faithful servant.
I am so glad we have so many of his words and wisdom written and recorded.
Mr Stott. Thank you. Thank you for showing us how to be a truly radical disciple of Christ.