Of the Imitation of Christ (Vintage Spiritual Classics)
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ISBN/ASIN : 0375700188
Manufacturer : Vintage|
Release data : 24 March, 1998
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Christian Devotional Classic
The Imitation of Christ is, after the Bible, the most widely-read Christian book in history, and deservedly so. It is a treasure-chest of Christian wisdom and truth. I picked it up after reading a book on the 17th-century French missionaries to the New World. Among the meager possessions they took with them into the wilderness were two books - the Bible and the Imitation. I considered that to be a fairly compelling recommendation, and I was not disappointed.
Thomas a Kempis, in the Imitation, gives us wisdom for living the Christian life that is extremely challenging. More than once as I read through it, I found myself squirming in my seat as Thomas brought the truth to bear, uncomfortably close to where I live. A few brief samples:
"It is a hard thing to leave evil customs and it is harder to break our own will, but it is most hard forever to lie in pain and forever to lose the joys of heaven." (bk. 1, ch. 11)
"If you had a good conscience, you would not fear death so much, and it would be better for you to abandon sin than to fear death." (bk. 1, ch. 23)
"[H]e is not truly patient who will suffer only as much as he pleases, or from whom he pleases." (bk. 3, ch. 19)
"All is not lost, though some things happen contrary to your will." (bk. 3, ch. 30)
We have here the mind and heart of a wise old monk, who has struggled through to "the peaceable fruit of righteousness". He has no illusions about his own (or his readers') human nature; he knows how difficult is the challenge of living a Christian life. And yet, he also knows something of the rewards for whatever success he has had at it. Above all, he has learned humility, and the challenge of his experience can help us follow in the way of Christ. The Imitation struck me as a kind of medieval Christian Book of Proverbs, and it affected me similarly.
I will leave the reader with one more quote to show something of the character of this wonderful little book:
"Do not let [another] speak to me, therefore, but you, my Lord Jesus, ... lest perhaps I die and be made like a man without fruit, warmed from without, but not inflamed within, and so receive the harder judgment, because I have heard your word and not done it, known it and not loved it, believed it and not fulfilled it." (bk. 3, ch. 2)
A great devotional for all Christians!
Thomas a' Kempis wrote "The Imitation of Christ" primarily for monks, encouraging them to live a Christ-like life in the monastery.
Yet so much of this great book applies to every Christian, of all ages, no matter what stage of the journey the Christian is in.
Kempis utilizes copious amounts of passages from the Bible to drive home his points. He stresses humility and an utter denial of self. This, he says, are the purest ways of getting closer to our Savior.
I found Kempis' book to be quite inspirational throughout, and a comforting reminder that this world is not our home; we are not to love this earth. Our home, our eternal destination, is yet to be seen and experienced!
A very Zen Buddhist-like Christian text
The Imitation of Christ is one of my favorite religious/spiritual texts. I am not a Christian, and I often find Christian theological works unappealing for a variety of reasons. Not so this book, it is very honest about what it is to live a spiritual life, and does not sugar coat and spout cliches like so many spiritual "guides" do. Also, this book, along with the writings of Meister Eckhart, have a lot of themes and aphorisms that are amazingly similar to themes in books about Zen Buddhism. So, if you like Zen, or Taoism, and would be interested in reading the thoughts of a Christian who has had very similar experiences/revelations, I would highly recommend The Imitation of Christ.