Walk Humbly by Samuel Wells
In this short, beautifully-written book, the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, invites us to consider ourselves in relation to our Creator. In space and time, he writes, we are momentarily-flickering Existences, brought into being by countless apparent accidents, yet loved so unspeakably by the Essence that willed that that Essence became one of us, sharing in every way our Existence. ‘Jesus becomes human. The Word becomes flesh.’ And the final purpose, we read, is – astonishingly – more, much more, than God sharing our little life.
It is when we realise that we are, and have, nothing whatsoever, that all is purely God’s gift to us, that we can begin to know how insurmountably we are in his debt, how small is our understanding of the meaning of Love, how great the extent of our dependency and the humility by which we ought to live. And it is by exploring that humility that we can begin to know ourselves, our purpose, and how we should pursue that purpose.
It is not by ‘making a difference’:
‘While often a worthy encouragement to seek the common good, it is, in the light of the breadth and longevity of the universe, a sentiment of either hubris or narcissism. … Actions and interventions are to be evaluated not by the impact they make … but by their intrinsic quality …’
We are to exercise self-control: to seek, with gentleness, the kingdom of God. To be ‘a person of praise’. To find, and treasure, the answer to the question ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ – what is it that is represented by the name ‘Jesus’. To read this book of guidance is to step into that imperative.
Reviewed by Julia Taylor
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