Review: Jesus + Nothing = Everything
You’ve probably heard of Tullian Tchividjian by now. He’s the grandson of Billy Graham, a blogger, writer, and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But for a while he was known as a pastor under siege. Tchividjian describes what it was like:
There were people in the choir who, when I would stand up to preach, would get up and walk out. People would sit in the front row and just stare me down as I preached. It was extremely uncomfortable. People would grab me in the hallway between services and say, “You’re ruining this church, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop you.” I would come out to my car and it would be keyed. Some people would stop at nothing to intimidate.
They put petitions on car windows during the worship service. They started an anonymous blog, which was very painful. Here we were trying to build consensus and there’s this anonymous blog fueling rumors and lies. The blog almost ruined my wife’s life. Anonymous letters were sent out to the entire congregation with accusations and character assassinations. It was absolutely terrible.
Let me pause here. Every pastor reading this can relate. Tchividjian’s story is a more dramatic version of what we all experience. Same story; different scale, different details, but we’ve all been there, or will be.
So how do you weather a situation like this? Tchividjian tells us in his excellent new book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything
. What we need, he writes, is to discover the beauty and riches of the gospel, and how we have everything we need in Christ, even when life seems to be falling apart.
Tchividjian begins by telling us about the most difficult year of his life – 2009 – “the year that God helped me rediscover the now-power of the gospel in the crucible of excruciating pain.” He then walks us through some basic theology: our cravings for more, our tendency to pursue other things besides Christ to satisfy our deepest needs. The bulk of the book is spent exploring the riches of the gospel from the book of Colossians. Tchividjian unpacks the riches of the gospel and applies it to his own situation, and to ours.
What’s the main target in this book? It’s our tendency to look everywhere but the gospel for what we need most. Tchividjian shows us how the gospel provides what we really need, and how it’s futile to look anywhere else. He writes:
Because of the gospel, we have nothing to prove or protect. We can stop pretending. The gospel frees us from trying to impress people, to prove ourselves to people, to make people think we’re something we’re not … The gospel frees us from the urge to self-gain, to push ourselves forward for our own agenda and purposes and self-esteem.
The gospel isn’t just for people outside the church; it’s for us. It’s for pastors. Tchividjian does a great job reminding us that we have everything that we need in Christ. We need books like this, because the gospel is so different than the way we tend to think and live.
If you want to refresh yourself by taking a fresh look at the gospel and all that it means, I highly recommend this book.
Find out more at Amazon.com
and at Crossway