Some people think God is out to destroy our pleasure in ordinary things. Nice things. Beautiful things. Not so.
As Christians we are prone to split the activities of our lives into categories – good; not-quite-so-good. Of course we're concerned not to do anything actually sinful, but still we create grades of good and better. Witnessing to a colleague; writing a good essay. Spending an hour in prayer; going for a run. We all know which are the more worthy options.
Julian Hardyman mounts a robust attack on such attitudes. Taking us back to Genesis, he shows us from those oft skimmed-over verses, how the world was originally created, and the delight that God took in it. He reminds us what it means to be made in the image of God. On a speedy journey through Bible history, Julian traces two great commissions and two great commandments – loving God, loving others, evangelism, and – frequently forgotten – filling, ruling, and developing the earth.
In this slim, exceptionally readable volume, Hardyman argues from Scripture that every activity of our lives can and should be performed to the glory of God. We can fully throw ourselves into our work, sport, friendships, love of nature because these are things that the Lord loves and has created for our enjoyment. There is no guilt in pursuing a 'secular' career or calling – architecture, maths, molecular science, cooking can all be as valuable as 'full-time Christian service' as we put to use our God-given gifts.
Hardyman's point is well illustrated by his flowing style of writing, which becomes upbeat and almost joyous at times when he verges on rhapsodic in describing the delights of the world in which we live. He loves to elaborate each of his points with an array of descriptions and illustrations. He takes great pleasure in the simple things of life, and is infectiously enthusiastic in his appreciation of the wonders of creation. It left me seeing the world around me in a different light.
I found this book both challenging and liberating. It challenged me to put more effort into my studying, not just enough to keep my consultant happy, but enough to keep my Lord happy. It also challenged me to invest quality time in relationships, because they are something ordained by God even since the beginning of time. Furthermore, I was liberated to enjoy the exhilaration of running the length of the pitch to score a stunning try – and not just for the sake of opportunities to witness to my team mates in the changing room.
Hardyman calls for a balanced life. Not for a moment does he refute the importance and priority of evangelism; rather he pleads that every aspect of our lives should be equally weighted and dedicated to the service of our Saviour.
Clinical student at Bart's and the London medical school