There are only a few books that have made a considerable impact on me. In fact, there is only one book that has been, by far, the best book I’ve ever read. That book was Knowing God by JI Packer. However, things have changed. Another book has dethroned Packer’s timeless piece of work for me.
That book is Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers by Dane Ortlund.
I’m not quite sure I’ve ever done an official book review but, since this book showed me a new way, per se, of looking at Christ, I thought a review was warranted. So let’s dive in.
The Book is About Jesus
Ortlund sets out from the very beginning to note what the book is about: Jesus. It’s about Christ and who he is at his core. “Who is he? Who is he really?” Otlund says in the introduction. “What is most natural to him? What ignites within him most immediately as he moves toward sinners and sufferers?”
At the onset, Ortlund captures the attention of the readers’ minds and focuses it on Jesus Christ. Moreover, he wrote this to specific people: “This book is written for the discouraged, the frustrated, the weary, the disenchanted, the cynical, the empty. Those running on fumes.” In short, Ortlund wrote this book for all Christians. Every single one–nobody is left out!
From my perspective–and I imagine many others–Ortlund does a fantastic job of reorienting our minds on who Jesus really is. We know Jesus–we know what he did, how he spoke, and where he is now. But do we know who Jesus is at his core? That is what Ortlund seeks to show us and he does not disappoint.
Mercy is Natural, Wrath is Provoked
One of the mindboggling things Ortlund touches on is how mercy comes natural to Christ, whereas wrath is provoked. Even more, we need not cower or shy away when we sin as his children. Our natural instinct is to try to clean ourselves up after we sin before we come to God. No. Ortlund makes the comparison, like a father with his son, Christ’s heart draws nearer his children when they sin. He doesn’t pull away; he doesn’t let go of our hand; he doesn’t cast us out!
Though sin is egregious and the Father no doubt disciplines us like a good Father, the heart of Christ is drawn toward compassion even when it involves the failures of his children. This isn’t a license to keep sinning but a green light to run directly to Christ after we sin.
The Heart of Christ
Our savior is tender. He is compassionate. He is gentle and lowly. We need not have this image in our head of a stiff-necked Christ who is waiting for us to mess up. He is not trigger-happy to show his hanger. No, he is trigger-happy to show his children mercy, compassion, and undeserving grace.
In other words, he wants us to see his heart for his people. He is for us. He is with us. He is beside us. All the way home.
There’s no doubt about it: Gentle and Lowly will be a book that is read 100 years from now. People will look back on this masterpiece and thank God for his grace in gifting Ortlund to write this heavenly book. I no doubt believe that he has ministered to thousands–if not millions–of Christians around the world. Myself included.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book and I promise you will come away not with a different Jesus, but a more full Jesus–one that gets right at the heart.
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