Since When Did Pleasing God Become an Unattainable Ideal?

His servants aren’t meant to feel like spiritual failures.

How is it that I can wake up at four in the morning and still fail to accomplish even a quarter of the tasks on my list?” I commiserated to a friend at church. Both of us were depressed about how we can cram so much activity into a day and still come up short by bedtime.

The problem, I said, waving my arms, is the new law of self-care, the mountain that “healthy” people feel the need to climb. The law includes activities like daily exercise, prayer, Bible study, weekly small group attendance, and proper sleep hygiene. It mandates keeping on top of the dishes and laundry, maintaining intentional in-person and online relationships, praying for the persecuted church, and asking my neighbor if she’s ever heard of Jesus. How can mere mortals manage all this in their nonworking hours?

All I do, I complained, is apologize for being a colossal failure. My friend patted my hand and recited her own litany—the same in spiritual substance, though differing in particulars. Then I went home and found relief by cracking open Kevin DeYoung’s Impossible Christianity: Why Following Jesus Does Not Mean You Have to Change the World, Be an Expert in Everything, Accept Spiritual Failure, and Feel Miserable Pretty Much All the Time.

This short, personable, practical book is intended for people like me who are not overly confused about the parameters of the Christian life. If you know that salvation is wrought by the justifying work of Christ on the cross rather than by your own works, if you know that you won’t be able to reach perfection in this life, and if you know that repentance leads to ever-increasing trust in Jesus, then this book will be just the thing you’re looking for. Because, if those …

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