This past month our church began reading through the book Gentle & Lowly by Dane Ortlund. It has been an encouraging month with some good discussion looking into the heart of Christ towards His people. There are at least three reasons why I believe this book is so encouraging.
1. Pastorally written
Dane does a great job of pastorally walking through the topic of the heart of Christ towards His own. Now this is an important part to see right up front and he sets this out clearly in the opening chapters that those who are his audience are those who have repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ. Everything being written and applied is to this group of people. This is not a book about Jesus as a general figure in history and his disposition towards all mankind, it is focused on His disposition towards His own, and from this position Dane is able to beautifully apply these truths to us, especially in our struggles with sin, suffering through disillusionment, and working through life’s hurts.
With that in mind it is not an academic work, but rather a work of pastoral devotion. He writes the text for those who are struggling to know Christ better and to grow in their relationship with Him and understanding of who He is. In doing so Dane is tackling a very monumental task with pastoral care and devotional attention. Each chapter is roughly 10-12 pages in lengthen working us through scriptural truths on the heart of Christ or reflecting on specific puritan’s teaching on Christ’s grace and mercy. On the other side since it is a pastoral work there are times where Dane will get a little overcome with trying to explain and illustrate the heart and love of Christ that it can become distracting from the thrust of the argument and encouragement he is seeking to give, for some this may be a blessing to others it could be a curse.
2. Christ Focused
The second reason this book is so impactful, is its Christ centered focus, specifically its attempt to bring us back to the reality of the humanity, of Christ. This work is meant to drive us forward into our love of Christ as we see Him as the God-Man. He was not simply taking on a pseudo humanity he took on humanity as it was meant to be free from sin, and he did it to save his own from sin. The whole text points us back to Christ; in all of our self-indulgent thoughts, we need Christ; in all our struggles and brokenness over sin, we need Christ; In all that we hold dear, we need Christ. He is our only hope in this life and the next.
With this immense task before him, Dane connects us deeply to the heart of Christ’s humanity and through it the love of God the father in sending Christ to save His own. Throughout the text we are continually refocused on the scriptural teachings of Christs’ heart towards those he ransomed from the grave. There is a lot to work though on this topic and at times there are many places he walks a fine line working through the texts of scripture ensuring he doesn’t fall into heresy, and when dealing with such a topic it is often easy to do, but he does it well. There are many footnotes and clarifying statements along the way to help readers better understand some of the theological ideas presented if one want to dive deeper..
3. Puritanically Rich
Finally the rich history of the Puritans is brought to bear on this topic. The Puritan writers offer a wonderful tapestry of observations and Biblical richness when talking about the mercy and grace of Christ, especially in his relationship to humanity. Dane gives us a glimpse into these men’s writings and in doing so their passion for the Lord and love for those they were called to shepherd. These men labored well in the Word to bring their people the depth of Christ’s love and the hope they could find in Him through all of life. If nothing else, this book stirs in us a rich desire hopefully to dive back into the works of some of these great writers and theologians.