It’s usually not popular for leaders to make demands of their followers, but Jesus made many demands of his disciples. John Piper, author of the bestselling Don’t Waste Your Life and When I Don’t Desire God, believes that the teachings of Jesus are filled with demands that show not only who Jesus is but what He expects from us.
Piper is intentional in the use of his word “demands.” He explains:
“I am aware the word ‘demand’ is jarring to many modern ears. It feels harsh, severe, strict, stark, austere, abrasive. The reason I choose that word is to confront some of the underlying reasons for why it would feel offensive to portray Jesus as demanding.”
In this 400-page book, Piper explores 50 demands of Jesus. They cover a wide variety of topics beginning with “You must be born again” and concluding with “Make disciples of all nations, for the mission cannot fail.” In between, readers find the demands of “Abide in me,” “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for all of life is war,” and “Do this in remembrance of me, for I will build my church.”
Often a given demand will be divided into two and even three or more chapters that explore different facets of the main idea. For example, “Do not be angry” is examined from two angles: trust God’s providence and embrace mercy and forgiveness. The result is a thorough examination of each demand.
In the chapter “Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me,” Piper writes:
“He did not die to make this life easy for us or prosperous. He died to remove every obstacle to our everlasting joy in making much of him. And he calls us to follow him in his suffering because this life of joyful suffering for Jesus’s sake shows that he is more valuable than all the earthly rewards that the world lives for. If you follow Jesus only because he makes life easy now, it will look to the world as though you really love what they love, and Jesus just happens to provide it for you. But if you suffer with Jesus in the pathway of love because he is your supreme treasure, then it will be apparent to the world that your heart is set on a different fortune than theirs.”
These kinds of rich nuggets of wisdom and insight line the pages of What Jesus Demands FROM the World. The result is a deeply impactful book that will challenge readers to reflect not only on what they know about Jesus but what they have yet to discover. Piper actually designed the book so that it doesn’t need to be read in order. Chapters can be enjoyed and savored at the reader’s discretion, making it a deep devotional read or book for personal study.
If you’re a fan of John Piper or Desiring God Ministries, you won’t want to miss this book.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2011