Monday, January 2, 2017

Closer Than Close, by Dave Hickman

Have you ever spoken to someone, or read someone's book, who has had a profound revelation that changed his life, but when he tried to tell you all about it, he just didn't connect with you?  That's how I felt reading Dave Hickman's Closer Than Close: Awakening to the Freedom of Your Union with Christ.  Hickman writes biographically, recounting his own experiences, with which many Christians can relate.  Hickman became a Christian as a boy, remained faithful and committed to church and to Jesus, but as a young adult began questioning whether there is more to the Christian life than what he has experienced.

The crucial point of revelation was when he began to shift from thinking about a relationship with Jesus to thinking about union with Jesus.  It's true, this is a very important distinction.  He writes, "Becoming conscious of our union with Christ is imperative for a full understanding of God, self, salvation, and the depths of God's eternal love and acceptance."  Throughout the Bible, and in the church fathers, we read continually about Christ in us.  The sacrament of communion illustrates Jesus' entering into us.

This simple point revolutionized Hickman's Christian life, and he wants it to revolutionize mine, too.  I'm not saying I've mastered the concept and understanding that Jesus lives in me, but as long as I can remember I have understood that Jesus wants to live in me, that I should as him into my heart.  I remember the Four Spiritual Laws, which challenged me to allow Jesus to sit on the throne of my heart.  Hickman would make a distinction between Jesus living in my heart and union with Jesus, but to me the implications are virtually the same.

I'm not saying Hickman doesn't make some good points or teach some good, practical theology.  He does!  I liked his chapter on spiritual disciplines.  He emphasizes doing nothing--just abiding with Christ.  If we're doing nothing, then we can give all glory to God and avoid thinking we are doing something to earn his presence.  Similarly, our prayers should be simple.  We might get caught up in praying the right things, but "prayer is more about who we are praying to than what we are saying. It's about trusting in who God is rather than trying to convince God with our many words."

Hickman offers some valuable insights, but my entire reading experience was a bit tainted by what I viewed as his overstatement of the profundity and revelatory nature of the book.  So, temper your expectations after the first few pages and you'll enjoy the book.

Thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network for the complimentary review copy!

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