Jared Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Vermont and he blogs at Gospel Driven Church. He’s also the author of The Pastor’s Justification, Your Jesus is Too Safe, Gospel Wakefulness, and Gospel Deeps. You can also follow him on Twitter: @JaredCWilson
Recently, he took a few minutes to talk to me and had some interesting things to say. We hope you enjoy…
Chad: In your spiritual journey have you ever struggled with the idea of God’s grace?
Jared: I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with the idea itself. The grace of God is such a compelling idea, mainly because it is so unique. Only Christianity talks about grace in this way, and I think I’ve always found that, oddly enough, a great part of what it makes it so credible to me. But I have definitely struggled with the idea of God’s grace being *for me.* I have wrestled with feeling that God could love me, that God would accept me and approve of me. It has taken a lot of convincing on my part to get through that, but God is the great convincer, and I’m grateful that I don’t struggle nearly as much today with believing that God loves me and has saved me.
Chad: In your book, “Wonder-Working God” you talk about the miracles of Jesus revealing “what we go through such great pains to deny” or affirm. Talk about what you mean by that.
Jared: I believe that Jesus’ miracles are glimpses into the new heavens and the new earth–windows, if you will, into heaven. So the idea that “heaven is coming to earth” is something that the miracles make very real and promise very gloriously. But many people are staunchly opposed to such an idea. Religious and irreligious people alike tend to take on a grandly cynical view of the world, that we’re all “going to hell in a hand basket.” There’s a kernel of truth to that, and we should have a cynical view of the way of the world, the sinful cycle of injustice and wickedness that is indeed passing away. But hopelessness is not a fruit of the gospel outlook. So when I say people will go to great pains to deny heaven on earth, I just mean that people will shoot themselves in the foot if it means not bowing the knee to Christ’s Lordship. And similarly, some people will go through great pains to affirm Christ’s Lordship–they will suffer oppression and insult, and in many parts of the world, persecution and martyrdom.
Chad: As a former pastor myself, I’m pretty sure you’ve thought about this next question: If you could give one sermon to Christians today what would it be? (i.e. What do you think we need to hear most?)
Jared: Christians need to hear that they need the gospel as much as nonChristians. Not in the same way, but just as much. So I think I would preach a message on that concept, probably something from 1 Corinthians 15 which begins with that simple reminder of how we need the historical work of Christ’s gospel every day of our lives and ends with a glorious exposition of the resurrection of the believer through Christ’s resurrection.
Chad: This question is more inspired by than directly from your book, “The Storytelling God.” The way we see the parables is often very concrete, and the way you describe them takes one having a creative bent. I think Jesus, and the bible in general, gives a lot of credence to story-telling and the arts in general (parables, poems, songs, etc.) Why do you think Christians are more known for staying away from the arts?
Jared: I don’t know, but I think it’s largely a fear of either “lying”–because telling the truth through art is seen as less direct or less useful than straight teaching–or of being wasteful. I think many Christians just tend to think of the arts as a waste of time. This is why when Christians do engage in the arts, they tend to be very didactic and bland–we propagandize. We haven’t quite figured out as a culture how to make art for God’s sake that knows how to exist as art, not as a tract or treatise or teaching tool.
Chad: As a fellow writer, I always like to know what other writers read. What’s on your nightstand, Jared?
Jared: I’m always grazing in multiple books. Right now these include RC Sproul’s “The Holiness of God” and Dane Ortlund’s “Edwards on the Christian Life.” I’m also doing a lot more re-reading these days, and I am finishing up re-reads of Keller’s “The Reason for God” and Ray Ortlund’s “When God Comes to Church.” On the fiction end, I just finished Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” in anticipation of the film adaptation and am beginning a re-read of Hugo’s “Les Miserables.”