After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters by NT Wright

Theologian NT Wright’s powerful exploration of the dynamism of sanctification.

After You Believe just blew my mind. I never thought much about sanctification beyond feeling like I’m a failure because the fruit of the Spirit don’t come naturally to me and I suck at following the rules. According to Wright, a British theologian, I’ve fallen prey to a very common error.

I really can’t do justice to the depth of this book in a short blog post, but basically he says that we should view Christian character as beginning a journey that will continue in heaven. We will have work to do in heaven and we can begin it now. We put on Christian virtue and it will feel funny at first, but the more we put it on (the fruit of self-control), the more natural it will feel and we will be changed, a change that will continue our whole lives and then be completed when we are glorified when we see the face of God in heaven.

I better just give you a quote:

Royal priests are, in short, to work at revealing the glory of God to the world. That is the task of the renewed Temple. But if, as in John’s gospel, the glory of God is revealed when Jesus of Nazareth goes to the cross as the supreme act of Love, then we should expect that God’s glory will be reflected out into the world when Jesus’ followers learn the habits of mind, heart, and life that imitate the generous love of Jesus and thus bring new order, beauty, and freedom to the world.

We are given…the promise that the earth shall be full of the knowledge and glory of God, as the waters cover the sea; we are given the resurrection of Jesus to be the start of that project; and we are given the Holy Spirit to enable us to anticipate the former by implementing the latter. To begin on those tasks does not mean we know it all and can see exactly what needs doing. It means that we are committed to taking the difficult first steps towards acquiring the corporate habits that will be justice-generating, beauty-producing, and freedom-enhancing, and to continuing the many-sided debates as to what exactly those phrases will mean. And, once again, every follower of Jesus will have his or her own unique and interestingly different vocation within this complex overall project.

There is so much more, and I will definitely be reading this book again and again and again.

One thought on “After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters by NT Wright”

  1. Thanks! I just downloaded a sample to my Nook.
    (and may I just say, if the fruits of the Spirit came naturally they wouldn’t be the fruits of the Spirit!)

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