|Photo courtesy of InterVarsity Press|
Review by Ian Acheson
Words are powerful. They contain ideas and shape the way we see God, ourselves and all of reality. We're transformed, in particular, by God's Word, and by "the Word,” the Logos―Jesus himself―as described by John in the first chapter of his Gospel. Memorizing and studying a passage in depth can offer a deeper sense of the meaning of each word. In this unique introduction to the hidden life in Christ, James Bryan Smith walks readers through a thirty-day immersion in Colossians 3:1-17. Each of the thirty short chapters of this book bring out the main truth of just one word or phrase of this rich passage. You'll also find a very simple daily practice to take up, reflection questions and a guide for five weeks of group discussion. The only way to tell a story is to use words. May the words of Colossians 3 become a companion to you as God continues to write your story.
Colossians 3:3 has been one of my favourite verses for many years so when I discovered there was a book that helped one better understand what "being hidden in Christ" means, I quickly purchased it.
From the beginning, Smith explains how significant the first 17 verses of Chapter 3 have been for him and also how memorising them helped its truths sink in and "dwell richly" within him. Accordingly, he encourages the reader to also memorise the 17 verses. The book is structured as a 30 day devotional which allows you to do just that, put the verses to memory and I'm pleased to say having now finished it I can recite those 17 verses.
Memorising is one thing, but more important is the dwell richly part. Each chapter provides a short three to five page reflection on one of the key words of the particular verse for that day. So, for example, Day 5 covers "For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Smith explores the word "hidden" and provides his interpretation.
Each chapter then ends with a suggestion for applying the truth he's explored, an Affirmation of that truth, a Prayer and a question for personal reflection.
I found this book to be of tremendous benefit to better understanding what it means to be God's chosen, holy and dearly loved, and how to apply these verses to living each day. And it's a great way of learning to memorise a passage of Scripture, a verse per day over 30 days.
I've also found it fascinating that now six or so weeks since finishing it how many times I've come across some of the verses in my other readings and in sermons I've heard. Soaking in these verses really does open one's eyes to all there is in being "in Christ." I thoroughly recommend this book and expect to go back to it again and again.