Saint Maximus, back in the seventh century, acknowledged, “A person who is simply a man of faith is [not] a disciple.” John Mark Comer frames the same axiom with the question: are you a Christian or are you a disciple? If your immediate response to that question is, “Are those not the same things?,” then Comer’s Practicing the Way is the exact book for you to read.
While I’m not sure this book offers much that hasn’t already been said elsewhere (which is evidenced by Comer’s deep research and plethora of excellent quotations), he offers a wonderful compendium on discipleship. You will be uncomfortably challenged by many of the chapters, as Comer begins with an argument that our salvation and goal as believers in Christ must reach into becoming apprentices of Jesus. After all, how can one truthfully say they believe what Jesus teaches and not strive to live in such a way?
After defining biblical discipleship/apprenticeship, Comer lays our three goals: to be with Jesus, to become like him, and to do as he did. As Comer states, “If you are an apprentice of Jesus, your end goal is to grow and mature into the kind of person who can say and do all the things Jesus said and did.” The question which naturally remains, then, is, “How?”
It is at this point, Comer lays the suggestion for a Rule of Life. Not only does he define a Rule of Life, but he gives some prime examples and starters on forming one’s own personal Rule of Life. It is worth mentioning here that Comer has also begun a nonprofit named Practicing the Way that aims to develop spiritual formation resources. At practicingtheway.com, Comer and his team have free, downloadable videos and guides for different spiritual practices. It is truly a wonderful and valuable resource—one that I highly recommend even if you don’t end up picking up the book first.
I can really see this book and its online companion being a powerful resource for churches and small groups who aim to not just “be discipled” but to “be disciples.” Practicing the Way is filled with challenging propositions, practical guides and examples, and hope for a Church that looks and does as Jesus did.
I’m grateful to NetGalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for the advanced readers copy in return for my honest review.