Where the Protestant reformers sought to live for the glory of God, Larry Crabb contends American Christians of today seek to be blessed by God. The result is a performance based pursuit of God’s blessing that leaves the pressure on where God never intended there to be pressure in a relationship with Him. Larry Crabb suggests there is a better way, a way that leaves as his new books says, “The Pressure Off“.
Instead of pursuing divine encounter, spiritual community, and soul transformation, we seek to pursue comfort. We look for temporary blessings and miss eternal ones. We seek to earn God’s favor instead of experience God’s love.
Crabb defines these two approaches as the Law of Linearity vs. the Law of Liberty. The Law of Linearity focuses on what we do to earn God’s blessing, it leads to following rules for life, and what Crabb refers to as the “rule of life”. The Law of Liberty focuses on grace. It’s greatest pursuit is relationship with God, even if and perhaps even more especially if, one’s world is falling apart. The Law of Linearity keeps the pressure on to perform. The Law of Liberty keeps the pressure off to pursue a new way of the Spirit.
I appreciate how Crabb writes with honesty and transparency. He speaks not only of theological theory, but how this plays out in his life and in his readers. He writes, “To know me much is to like me. To know me fully will reveal how disgusting I really am.” He recognizes the devastation sin brings to our lives, and the deception Satan brings when blessings come in our lives. For revival to take place in the church and in this world, it must begin in one’s soul.
Here’s the challenge by nature we prefer the better life, the way of blessing, the problem solved. Satan can wrap this up in a neat bow, and a perfect trap to pull us away from God and toward the world. Instead God offers a better hope, a deeper relationship with Him. The path may not be easy, instead of blessings to enjoy life, we may discover burdens to build our relationship with Him. This leads to the Immanuel Agenda: God with us.
This new way of life follows 5 core ideas under the Holy Spirit’s leadership to a deeper relationship with God. Larry Crabb says if you want to live the new way of the Spirit then:
1. Reflect on where you are.
Crabb says, “It is our failure to discover where we are at any moment that keeps us from realizing where we must want to go.” You know you are on this path when God leads you to see your brokenness, your humility level deepens, and you grow in dependence and gratitude towards God.
2. Recognize the fork in the road that is always before you.
Will you seek to make things better or grow with God deeper? Out of the brokenness of where you are, comes repentance, then abandonment to God that amazingly leads to confidence as we drink deeply the living water the Spirit brings that leads to release of what God is bringing alive within you. Instead of the old way of using God to make your life work, you let God work in your life for the work He desires to do.
3. Refocus your goals.
Our default mode is to pursue goals of comfort, we usually call these “blessings”. It takes supernatural guidance to pursue an encounter with God, or spiritual community, or transformation that makes us more like Christ.
4. Realize what God provides as the means of grace.
The pressure is off, so is our pride. Grace reminds us that God is the source. The Holy Spirit guides us to humbly receive what God gives, especially the greatest gift — the gift of a growing relationship with Him.
5. Reorient your prayer life to match New Way living.
If our life goal is blessing, that focuses our prayer life in one direction.
If our life goal is to know God, that focuses how we pray to God.
I appreciated what he calls the PAPA prayer:
Present yourself to God as you are.
Attend to where you notice God’s presence or absence
Purge yourself of whatever, at that moment, might be keeping you from noticing more of God
Approach God with abandonment and confidence, dedicated anew to come to know, enjoy and reveal Him, not to use Him for the blessings I desire but the life transformation He desires to bring.
I give The Pressure’s Off 5 out of 5 stars. It provided a great tool and inspiration to breaking free from rules and performance, to pursue a life of grace and growth in my relationship with God.
As an added bonus the book includes a workbook to work through the material, making this a good resource for individuals and small groups to use. For more information on Dr. Crabb you can go to his web site: www.NewWayMinistries.org.
I received a free copy The Pressure’s Off from WaterBrook Press through their blogging for books program. I was not required to give a positive review. The copy I read was a 2012 update of what was originally published in 2002.