Monday, October 1, 2012

Reviewing Tim Keller's The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy

I downloaded this book onto my school-purchased iPhone for several reasons:

1. Tim Keller - I enjoyed reading The Prodigal God, watching The Gospel of Life, and listening to numerous sermon clips and interviews of his.
2. The Subtitle - Sometimes I struggle to find joy in tasks that God has required me to do, but I want to rejoice always.
3. Cost - The book was under a buck through Amazon so I couldn't pass it up.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness consists of four short chapters, and I was able to finish the book on a bus ride home from work. Chapter one is called The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, chapter two is entitled The Natural Condition Of The Human Ego, chapter three is The Transformed View Of Self, and the final chapter is How To Get That Transformed View Of Self.

Chapter one opens up with two immensely important questions:

1. "What are the marks of a heart that has been radically changed by the grace of God?"
2. "If we trust in Christ, what should our hearts be like?"

In The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Pastor Keller focuses on a section of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians: 1 Cor. 3:21-4:7. In this passage, we are shown that the church in Corinth is divided due to pride and boasting. Like the Corinthians, we often look at ourselves too highly. This is something I have done all too frequently and something I continue to battle. Additionally, many people are on the other side of the spectrum and feel they suffer from a low self-esteem. We help people to combat this by telling them they are somebody; however, this is totally the wrong approach. We cannot build ourselves up by meeting our own standards or society's standards. This doesn't work. Apart from Christ, we will never be satisfied with ourselves. Our ego always desires more, and we get hurt in the process. We constantly desire to accomplish more in order to feel like we're somebody important. God expects us to deny ourselves and look to Him. God is to be our audience, not the world. We must seek to bring attention to our Awesome God and not to ourselves. The only way we can do this is by looking to the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is He who declares us innocent so we can live this life full of joy and be prepared for a life of pure joy in Heaven.

If you are looking for a quick read that is biblically sound, I recommend Keller's book to you. Pastor Keller preaches to a few thousand intellectuals in Manhattan every Sunday yet his book can be understood by those new to the faith. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness does not use complex theological terms, and deep thoughts and discussions should result from reading the book. Although I still struggle to find joy in some daily tasks, reading Keller's book is a great reminder of how I should be thinking. At the back of the book, you will find a few thoughts and questions for reflection, endnotes, and a list of Keller's books.