Book Review – Standing Firm
Recent years have brought an increasing hostility to Christianity and to those who identify with the moral teachings of Christ. Some of this I’m convinced is our own fault. When we decided (in large part) to make politics a central theme of Christianity we lost our passion for the only true liberating force that we have at our disposal- the gospel of Christ. Regardless of how we got here, the fact remains that if we are to remain a people identified by the ethos of the living God, then we will eventually face hostility, and perhaps even persecution.
Standing Firm by Jesse Yow is an attempt to navigate through the pages of scripture to answer the question of how a Christian is to respond in the face of hostility. Simplified to an extreme, there are essentially two views widely held by America Christians. The first is that we, as a Christian people living in a Christian Nation have both a right and a God-given responsibility to ensure that the United States remains a nation under God. As a result, there is a heavy emphasis on transforming culture into the Kingdom of God on earth. This is, in my opinion, too narrowly focused and overlooks the biblical theme of two kingdom living. The second view that is widely held is the belief that Christians are simultaneously citizens of two kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man. While our highest allegiance belongs to the kingdom of God and the cross which is at the center of it, we also have a responsibility to live peaceably under the laws that govern whatever nation God has established as our dwelling place. It is from this second view that Standing Firm addresses these issues.
Jessie Yow assumes that the Christian will experience hostility. I think this is a safe assumption given the testimony of scripture. God’s church has always been a peculiar people and has always been a counter-cultural people. The apostle Paul, when describing believers in 2 Corinthians says that we are the aroma of Christ.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.
From this passage it is clear that Christians will be led into triumph in Christ and that we have a distinctive characteristic which is noticeable to those around us. To those are are of Christ, we are a pleasing aroma but to those who are not we are the aroma of death. This creates a visceral reaction in those who oppose us. We should expect this.
So how does the Christian respond? Yow gives a number of possibilities from turning the other cheek to invoking our rights, disengaging, and playing defense. All of these are appropriate in certain situations. However, as Yow points out, this is never at the expense of the gospel. The cross must always remain central in the life of the believer. I appreciated how Yow constantly refocused the reader on the cross and the gospel proclamation. In fact, he makes a good case that biblical example is to do what would best maximize the gospel proclamation.
What also impressed me about Standing Firm is the way Yow framed our response within the context of prayer, self examination, forgiveness, and fellowship among other spiritual disciplines.
There are three appendices in Standing Firm which the reader will find useful. My favorite by far was appendix 2 which is a handful of prayers for those who are facing hostility and persecution. It is right and good for us to not forget our brothers and sisters who are dealing with this to greater degrees than we are.
Overall this is a topic which every Christian should understand and I can’t think of a better book that presents the biblical view than Standing Firm.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Concordia Publishing in exchange for an online review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Dr. Jesse Yow is a creative technical manager, entrepreneur, and author with leadership experience in mission-driven program development and execution.
Yow holds a PhD from the University of California Berkley. He works in applied science and technology and leads the Environmental Restoration Department at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
An active member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Yow teaches Bible classes at Our Savior Lutheran Ministries in Livermore, California. He also serves as a member of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations
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