Billy Graham’s grandson offers rest for the weary.
One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Publisher: David C. Cook
Until now I had never read Tullian Tchividjian, but I knew he wrote books about grace. I also knew that he was the grandson of Billy Graham. Plus, I learned that he succeeded the late D. James Kennedy as pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA). These factors, and an endorsement from Max Lucado urging people to read One Way Love, led me to gladly download the book when given the opportunity.
Tchividjian knows his subject. Like Franklin Graham, he was a rebel growing-up. It was not until after marrying that he came to Christ, not that the former caused the latter. Throughout the book he uses his prodigal past, both good and bad experiences, to illustrate his points. He references the graciousness of friends and family like Billy and Ruth Graham when he was still estranged from Christ. He also illustrates the inadequacy of law and condemnation as agents of change.
With so many competent books on grace, do we need another? The author’s premise is that the world, and even the Church, suffers from exhaustion. “The good news of God’s inexhaustible grace for an exhausted world has never been more urgent,” he writes.
The underlying problem is a culture that equates worth with performance. “What I see more than anything else is an unquestioning embrace of performancism in all sectors of life. Performancism is the mindset that equates our identity and value directly to our performance and accomplishments. Performancism casts achievement not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are or aren’t,” Tchividjian writes. Examples are not hard to come by. Most jobs emphasize the quantative or the qualitative. In such an environment, subjective measures are easily overlooked or dismissed. It becomes a numbers game, and the only way to succeed is to get better results. Those who produce have value. Is it any wonder that so many feel exhausted?
The Church is not immune. The number of souls saved, people visited, and attendance in classes and services can become measures of success. The urgency of the times, the work to be done, a plethora of programs and activities, and exhortations to get involved are enough to tire anyone. Some take pride in their desire to wear out rather than rust out. Whatever happened to the rest associated with faith and grace?
The author’s definition of grace comes from Paul Zahl, “Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unloveable…. The cliché definition of grace is ‘unconditonal love.’ It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing….” Let me summarize with another cliché, “no two ways about it!” This is one way love.
Tchividjian sounds a similar note in acknowledging the influence of Brennan Manning, who said, “My message unchanged for more than fifty years is this: ‘God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.’”
Like Manning, Tchividjian’s understanding of God’s one way love and all its implications is not just another teaching. It’s a life message, which is one reason why this could become the best book on grace you might ever read.
He more than answers the objections to grace. He argues that the problem is not too much grace. More often, it’s a low view of law that can lead us to believe that once we are saved, we can now measure up on our own. No, we never get beyond the need for grace, no matter how mature we become or how far we progress. If we must merit what Christ accomplished for us, we rob the gospel of its liberating element.
The following lines are like cold waters to a thirsty soul (good news), “The Gospel of Jesus Christ announces that because Jesus was strong for you, you are free to be weak. Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose. Because Jesus was Someone, you’re free to be no one. Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary. Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail.” These thoughts bring an inner sigh of relief. The daily grind makes me feel my need for Christ.
Whether you beat yourself down for the slightest infraction, or are supremely confident, there is no substitute for the message of grace. We all fall short, and we always will. What God has done in Christ is all that we will ever need. It answers every failure and condemnation.