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The Great and Beautiful God: Falling in Love with the God Jesus Knows
Author: James Bryan Smith
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Length: 232 pp.

James Bryan Smith addresses the issue of wanting to be more like Jesus in The Great and Beautiful God.  His assertion is that most of us want to change, and are trying to change, but are finding limited success because we not properly training in the spiritual disciplines necessary to be like Christ.

His thesis is summed up well in the following quote: "We cannot change simply by saying 'I want to change'.  We have to examine what we think (our narratives) and how we practice (the spiritual disciplines) and who we are interacting with (our social context).  If we change those things and we can then change will come naturally to us.  This why Jesus said his ‘yoke’ was easy.  If we think the things he thought, do the things he did and spend time with likeminded people, we will become like him.”

Seems fairly obvious to most of us, right?  Smith then lays out a plan for the behaviors needed, but he also points out some of the fallacies that Christians subscribe to at times, ideas planted by Satan or by well-intentioned people.  He reminds us that most of us live as if God’s love is conditional.  He distinguishes between the identity Christians have in Christ, and the sinful mature of man.

Like Donald Miller, Smith talks about being present in our “story,” the narrative of our lives.  He points out that we cannot change by our will, and that our story should have two narrators “II” and God. Without the collaborative effort of both narrators, the story will be less fulfilled and the ending may be in question.

For those needing fresh insight into the character of Christ, or for those who feel like they are spinning their wheels, this book is highly recommended.

Brian A. Smith



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