This book review was originally published on the Reformers Bookshop blog.
We make a thousand decisions every day, from what we’ll have for breakfast to whether we’ll accept that new job. How can we make good decisions as Christians living in the last days?
Often we simplify this, but Mikey Lynch’s The Good Life in the Last Days shows us that sometimes “it’s complicated” is a valid and right answer. Lynch provides practical guidance on how to make decisions in light of our eternal purpose and the reality of living in this world.
Lynch debunks the idea that the things of this world don’t have any value. He argues that God created this world purposefully. Even though sin permeates every part of creation, there are also many genuinely good things that God has given us to enjoy. There’s a place for sleeping, inline skating, and eating ice cream.
One of the strengths of The Good Life in the Last Days is that it addresses people at both ends of the spectrum—those who tend to be zealous and sacrificial and perhaps a little prideful; as well as those who feel burdened and guilty.
It’s important that Lynch recognises people are different. We all have different circumstances, personalities and abilities. I’m often tempted to think I need to be in a different season of life to serve God better, but our purpose is to glorify God wherever we are now.
As the book progresses, Lynch focuses in on 1 Corinthians 7, using singleness and marriage as a case study. This was particularly helpful for me as a single person grappling with how to live well. He looks beyond the typical platitudes about the value of singleness, to show how it is genuinely good and genuinely hard.
When I started reading The Good Life, I wanted clear-cut answers about what I should and shouldn’t be doing—revealing how Pharisaic my heart can be. Lynch helped me see that there isn’t always one right answer.
As the book comes to a close, Lynch addresses the concept of Christian freedom. One of his application points is that we should “do what you want”. Initially I balked at this, but by the end of the book I cautiously agreed. As long as we are not sinning, and wisely considering all the factors involved, we are free to go with whatever choice we want to do more.
I was personally challenged on my tendency to judge others for their choices, enforcing my own (extra-biblical or even unbiblical) ideas about right and wrong. I also learned to be more gentle with myself—I don’t need to feel guilty about resting, or watching a movie or TV show instead of reading theological books. But alongside that conviction, I must remember God’s clear commands for holiness while I choose what to watch.
There were a few points which I would have liked the author to unpack in more detail. Lynch guides pastors on how to preach about these matters well, encouraging their congregations to live sacrificially without placing legalistic burdens on them. I would have liked more direction on how to do this outside of the pulpit, for those of us who aren’t preachers. How can we help others think through their decisions without imposing our own view of what is the “right” choice? How do we this well when we don’t have the authority of a pastor?
All in all, this was a fantastic book. In our individualistic society, we don’t think much about how we make decisions. Mikey Lynch gives us a framework for thinking biblically about our choices, without ignoring the complexities of our lives. I’d recommend it to any Christian, no matter where you sit on the spectrum of sacrifice.