I am going to review and engage with Chris Greer’s book, 12 Rules for a Christian Life. This review will be bumped back up to the top of the page with each new installment. Chris and his family live in North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Chris is a member of Central Baptist Church. You can learn more about Chris, his projects, and his ministry here. I have come to have a deep appreciation for Chris and his approach to the Christian life. I am excited to journey through this book! Get a copy and come along!
Greer begins by introducing us to his terms. By “rule” he does not mean arbitrary and scattered laws but, rather, disciplines. His use of the term is more akin to the monastic concept of “the rule” than the legal. It is interesting and refreshing to see the continued Protestant appropriation—in a healthy and good sense, I hasten to add!—of broadly monastic ideals. But Greer isn’t, it appears, engaged primarily with historical retrieval as much as biblical retrieval. His introduction positions this work tonally in line with evangelical spiritual formation literature (Willard, Foster, Whitney, et al.), but the conceptual foundation of it also aligns it with the argument of something like Greg Peter’s The Monkhood of All Believers: The Monastic Foundation of Christian Spirituality, and, before it, the new monastic movement. It will be interesting to see, as we go along, how Greer’s works substantiates or undercuts this initial impression. Even so, I certainly applaud Greer’s approach and look forward to diving in.
The first four rules, he tells us, are grounded in the first aspect of the greatest commandment: love of God. The next four in the second aspect: love of neighbor. The final four involve our relationship with ourselves. This is a helpful schema. It’s wholistic and and a clear approach to such a lofty goal.
I particularly liked this sentence: “The ideal human life is not a religiously observant one, it’s a relationally connected one” (7). I will remember that.
More to come!
Chapter 1—”Fight for Space”
This was a tremendous chapter. Greer begins the chapter talking about the hectic, crammed, “marginless” nature of modern life.
“There’s very little space.”
“We wear our business like a badge of honor.”
“What’s missing in our lives is space.”
Jesus is out ultimate model and He modeled a healthy approach to space. In discussing Jesus’ ministry, Greer finds a key: in the midst of His miracle-working frenzy, Jesus disappeared and did something life-giving for Himself: “He fought for space.” “The pressure was on,” writes Greer, “but the precedent was set: Jesus would fight for space.”
What does Greer mean by “space.” “By ‘space’ I mean purposeful time with the Creator…The space that is rule #1 for the Christian life is centered in relationship.” We need to make “a commitment to space.”
“The question is not, ‘Will God show up?’ The question is, ‘Will you and I show up?’ and ‘Do we have a good plan for doing so?'”
Helpfully, Greer has adapted Cal Newport’s four approaches to space from his book, Deep Work. Greer appropriates and renames these as:
Extended Space: long periods of silence
Sabbath Space: a full day of space / purposeful and uninterrupted / no less than 8 hours
Daily Space: the creation of a rhythm / quiet time with Jesus
Prompted Space: when life’s circumstances prompt you to create space / as-needed space
Greer then shows how Jesus demonstrated a commitment to each of these four kinds of space. He writes that “rhythm and space marked His ministry instead of panic and hurry.”
In the next section, “How You Can Fight for Space,” Greer offers some very helpful and very practical ideas:
- calendar it (even prayer!)
- get out of the house (a new space to carve out this habit / “Where can you go out to allow God to draw you in?”)
- Make repeat visits (routine / keep the same location, or “a handful of spots”)
- power down (“Your smart device is a serious devil.”)
Won’t the very fight for space wear us out? No, for as Greer points out, “space becomes a charging station for our Spirit-led and empowered life.”
Finally, Greer argues for “the daily pause,” an intentional “60-second” pause, twice a day, to be alone with God. Schedule the daily pause (Greer does 10 am and 2pm) and don’t skip it.
This was a very helpful, well-organized, accessible, biblically-grounded consideration of space: what it is, how Jesus approached this crucial area of life, why it matters, and how we can go about finding it and meeting God in it.