In his book Loving Jesus More, Phil Ryken tackles a topic that is of utmost importance for every Christian: how can I love Jesus more? Instead of prescribing ways to conjure up loving feelings towards Jesus, Ryken invites readers to delve into the depths of God’s love. I have read Ryken’s writings before so I am familiar with his easygoing style and wide use of applicable illustrations throughout. The chapters are short and the main themes are concise so readers will not have a hard time following Ryken’s arguments. At the end of the book, there are short chapter summaries and study questions which is useful for both individuals and groups.
The book is a compilation of sermons that Ryken delivered but the content has been edited to allow chapters to flow well with each other. In nine chapters, the author takes time to examine and illustrate the extravagance of the love that God has for us and how we should respond to it. I will highlight a few of the themes that struck me most. Firstly, Ryken points out that evidence of God’s love can be seen from His creation, His Word, and most importantly through Christ’s sacrifice for us. Being able to love Christ is not a skill that can be gained. Rather, our love for Jesus is from the overflow of His love for us. Furthermore, through Christ’s death, we have the Holy Spirit who is in us to transform our hearts to a greater love for Jesus. Ryken does not stop at the vertical relationship we have with God but also the horizontal relationships we have with those around us. He points out that as receivers of divine forgiveness, we should also dispense mercy and grace abundantly to others. In addition, Ryken rightly states that obedience to God and His commands is how we can show our love to Christ in our everyday lives. We are always utterly dependent on God and by learning to depend on Him and His Word, we delight Him. Lastly, Ryken provides encouragement in that our love for Christ in this world will find its consummation when we meet Him face to face. Our love for God may be flawed now but as we progress in sanctification and arrive at heaven’s gates, we will be able to love Him perfectly.
I appreciate Loving Jesus More as it caused me to rethink my own flawed attempts at loving Christ more. Even loving my family and friends is hard enough let alone trying to love Jesus with the feeble love that I can offer. However, I am encouraged by Ryken’s reminder that our love is not measured by our ability but by the abundant love that God has for us. The Gospel message of God’s boundless grace does not stop at our conversion but continues to inform our daily lives. We can only love God and others well if we always rely on the grace that is found at the cross. When we savour the sweetness that comes from the love that God has poured upon us, we cannot help put respond in kind to Christ and those around us.
I would recommend this book to all believers who have been disappointed and discouraged in their attempts to love Jesus. I surmise that this feeling would be especially poignant for those who have been Christians for many years but have given up hope. Through the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, our love for Jesus will be renewed each and every day.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.