The Rhythm of the Christian Life
Recapturing the Joy of Life Together
by Brian J. Wright
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Pub Date 13 Aug 2019 | Archive Date 10 Apr 2020
Abilene Christian University Press & Leafwood Publishers, Leafwood Publishers
Hurried and exhausted, we are looking for a better way to manage all the demands in our lives. We think that if we could simply learn to balance everything, we would be happier. But our problem isn’t balance.
What we actually need is to rediscover the rhythm.
God has created a pulse for our lives, and for centuries Christians lived into that intentional rhythm, one that has been all but lost today. In this book, Wright invites us to find true joy and wholeness as we embrace the two core realities that every person experiences in life:
•moments alone: times of solitude when we are with God alone
•moments together: times of intentional fellowship with others
In our efforts to maximize our time, we often set unrealistic expectations for our “quiet time” and our social relationships. The result is a failure to hear the ancient rhythm that shows how these dimensions of our lives should complement each other.
Embracing the rhythm of the Christian life, and living it wholeheartedly, is the task of all believers, not just some of us. As Christians, our whole life consists of loving God and loving others— just like Jesus did. Explore The Rhythm of Christian Life and recapture the joy of life as God always intended.
"Everyone would benefit from pausing to think deeply about the rhythm (or lack thereof) of their daily life. Brian Wright's book draws from the deep well of Bonhoeffer's work on the rhythm of life; it's refreshing and challenging at the same time. Read it together with someone or schedule it for the end of the year or season. We highly recommend this excellent book."
―Dave and Gloria Furman, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Church of Dubai, and author of Kiss the Wave and Being There; and his wife, Gloria, author of Labor with Hope and Missional Motherhood.
"For a long time, I've been looking for a book that is spiritually and intellectually satisfying, yet simple. This book does just that. With incredible simplicity, The Rhythm of the Christian Life engaged my mind, warmed my heart, and inspired me to apply its message."
―Maher Samuel, Psychiatrist, Apologist, and Former Director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) in the Middle East.
"How best to spend our limited time on earth is arguably our greatest challenge. God instructed Adam to keep the garden, Israel to keep the Sabbath, and the church to keep the feast--all examples of how the people of God are to 'keep time.' The Rhythm of the Christian Life explains that keeping time is our most important and neglected spiritual discipline. Only when we get the balance right of spending time alone (with God) and together (before God) will we get our out-of-sync lives back in sync. Forget about the program--get with the beat, the two-beat rhythm of the Christian life that structures Christian freedom and sustains human flourishing."
―Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"God designed life to be lived together. The wisdom to live, the joy to celebrate, and the love to share are all found and experienced when we live together in harmony. Brian Wright makes this evident for us in the middle of an individualistic generation. Despite our busy schedules, we must find time to spend with God if we want to experience the joy of life together as part of the rhythm of the Christian life. Indeed, the good life is rhythmic, as Brian says. Don't just read this book--live it!"
―Miguel Núñez, Senior Pastor, Iglesia Bautista Internacional in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and council member of The Gospel Coalition.
"In the hectic, disjointed world, Brian Wright speaks wisdom. His calm measured voice rings as clear as the bell of a watchtower, calling us back to the rhythm of the Christian life. He reminds us that just as inhaling and exhaling are both essential to breathing, so time alone with God and time in fellowship with God's people are equally essential. Building upon the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wright reminds us that this divine tempo is timeless and universal; God wired us to live this way and he built us to do it in community. Sin disrupts this cadence, and we must deliberately return to the fellowship of God's people, to time alone with God, and again to the cadence of God's rhythm."
―E. Randolph Richards, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
"There's nothing more important than life with God. We are made for life with God. Brian J. Wright shows us how life with God is not an individualized pursuit of super-Christians who are climbing a ladder of hyper-spirituality. Thank God for this. Instead, with Bonhoeffer's Life Together as a muse, Wright offers a tonic for our deep loneliness and individualism. He guides us wisely through the pendulum swings of action and contemplation, community and solitude, time with God and time alone, and time together."
―Timothy Blackmon, Chaplain, Wheaton College
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 9 members
When I began reading I was a bit skeptical. Who needs another pamphlet on a few basic Christian ideas? But I was wrong. The author takes some Christian themes, drawn from Bonhoeffer, and does some heavy biblical theology to expose how the Bible develops the idea. I would recommend this book to everyone.
First sentence: A good life requires a good rhythm—a pattern of movement regularly repeated over time. When we live life in tempo and experience the various harmonies around us, we find true joy and experience lasting contentment.
Brian J. Wright's newest book relies heavily upon three things: the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Bonhoeffer's Life Together. His message is clear: the rhythm of the Christian life is equally dependent on time alone with God and time with other believers. To be in rhythm is a very good thing--a blessing from above. To be out of rhythm is a very dangerous thing--an indicator that you are out of favor with the Lord.
He writes, "We cannot glorify God—the chief purpose of our life—without living in the rhythm of faith he ordained. He wired us this way. He designed it into our DNA. As Christians, our whole life, no matter when or in what context, consists of loving God and loving others—just like Jesus did. When we neglect the rhythm of the Christian life as God ordained it, we are vulnerable to sin, Satan, and the world."
I am conflicted when it comes to this one. On the one hand, I do believe that we are called to love God--and to love with him with all our hearts, souls, and minds. I also believe, of course, that we are called to love others--both saved and unsaved. There were plenty of sections I agreed with overall. (In fact, I'd say I agreed with at least 90% of it.) On the other hand, I think this one could be misinterpreted by those with a tendency to legalism. This one at times focuses so much on activities and measuring those activities, reflecting on intentions, reflecting on growth or lack thereof, that there's no room for grace and celebration. Jesus Christ has paid it all. All to him I owe. We stand on Christ's righteousness alone. Nothing we can do can "add" to our salvation, to make God love us more, to win us any bonus points in God's sight.
For the record, I do not believe that Wright is encouraging legalism and dismissing grace. I'm not calling into doubt his intentions--to encourage believers to live a holy life pleasing to God and to be a blessing to the world around them. But does one live a holy life by focusing closely on what you're doing, on what you're feeling, on what you're intending, on how you're growing? Or does one live a holy life by keeping both eyes front-and-center on Christ? While I'm not doubting that there is a time and place for moderate amounts of self-reflection...I think you can overthink things and complicate the Christian walk. To those prone to doubting or legalism...or both. I think it might prove discouraging.
The book does offer much food for thought. For example, he writes, "the health of the community depends on each one of our private devotional lives...Everything we do (or don’t do) affects both us individually and the church communally (for better or worse). What may seem at first glance a “personal” practice is actually communal in nature." That's a truly terrifying thought, isn't it?!?! Perhaps sobering is the better word choice. The time I'm NOT spending with God is weakening my local church. OR The time I am spending with God is strengthening my local church.
Or consider this, "The purpose of our time alone is bigger than us alone. If we are only trying to achieve a greater individual closeness to God, then we are failing our spiritual family. We are setting a bad example of being united in Christ. We are distorting the truth about corporate life. We are squandering our gifts and talents by rebelling against God’s Word that calls us to edify one another."
And..."Our time alone is either weakening or strengthening us as a whole, and our time together is either increasing or decreasing our individual faith. This thought should be sobering to us, knowing that we could be dragging down our whole family of faith, or they may be pulling us down with them."
A thoughtful, well-cited look at what it means to live as a Christian in modern society. The author leans heavily on the teachings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th century theologian who wrote seminal works on discipleship and community. An interesting read for Christians wanting to get away from the gospel of materialism and neo-conservativism.
This is a well-written book that serves as a reminder of what’s important in life. The writing is clear and accessible.
My review of “The Rhythm of the Christian Life: Recapturing the Joy of Life Together”.
Goals of the Book:
What is the best way to spend our time? How do we live in step with God and his will for our lives, and not fall into our own patterns of fleshly desire and sin? For Bryan J. Wright, the answer is learning God’s rhythm and living in it. This book is designed to teach the Church how to identify the rhythm (because Wright did not make it, only elucidates what it is for us), live in that rhythm, and how to do so both as individuals and groups.
While pulling on what he identifies as God’s rhythm, Wright also pulls on Bonhoeffer’s excellent book Life Together. The book becomes a paradigmatic framework for the present volume, showing us how to live in God’s rhythm in community and alone. By drawing on Bonhoeffer, Wright cuts against the rampant cheap grace that infiltrates modern Christianity and calls us back to a life of trust in God based on his grace alone.
What does this book offer the Church?:
In a previous review (The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry), I noted how Christian publishing, and even non-Christian publishing, has been in the business of helping us get our lives together. “From Christian publishers like Moody (Your Future Self Will Thank You, Drew Dyck) or IVP (The Common Rule, Justin Whitmel Earley), to even non-Christian books like How to Break Up with Your Phone or Digital Minimalism, books across the board are showing us how to fix our rhythms, and, hopefully, reclaim our lives.” I’m really in favor of this growing trend. I think it’s desperately needed that we as American learn how to get our lives back. But we also need to be careful that we’re not producing too many of the same books.
Thankfully, Bryan Wright’s volume stands apart from the rest. Whereas Dyck’s book is about self-discipline and Earley’s is about practices to take up to gain your life back, Wright’s might be better described as a foundation book. If you want to take up new rhythms or practices, start with the foundations in Wright’s book. He will teach you how to practice spiritual life, spiritual disciplines, and spiritual gifts in both private and public avenues. Wright also uniquely draws our attention to the love of God serving as the basis of our love, the foundational rhythm.
How successfully does this book meet its goals?:
The book is helpfully divided into sub-chapter headings, as each chapter is fairly long. The chapters usually start by talking about the main idea of the chapter, giving an overview of Wright’s ideas about the topic. The chapter then is divided into subsections, looking at the main topic of the chapter in book the Old and New Testaments. By looking at the main topic through the entirety of the Bible, Wright stresses that 1) he did not make the concept up, 2) the concept is important because it is found throughout the Bible, and 3) that these concepts are foundational because of how important they are. Each chapter does feel a bit long, not bed-reading, but they are full of quality content that is made easier to follow because of the subheadings.
If you’re interested in getting your life back in-sync with God, I recommend this book to you. If you’ve been reading some books on getting your life back, this volume contains enough unique material to be worth adding to your growing pile of books on the subject. You can learn more about the book on Leafwood Publisher’s site, where you can purchase it directly from them. You can purchase the book on Amazon.
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