The Colson Way – Review

Owen Strachan. The Colson Way. Nashville TN: Nelson, 2015. E-book.

The Colson Way’s subtitle reads Loving Your Neighbor and Living with Faith in a Hostile World. The subtitle really sums up the purpose of the book. I recall reading Chuck Colson’s Loving God a number of years ago. At the time Colson was still searching. He had found God and was trying to see how to live for him.

In that book, Colson asked a number of very famous Christian leaders what Jesus meant when He said that the most important commandment was “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” He was really surprised at the simplistic answers most of these people gave him. Clearly, if that is the most important of God’s commandments, it must be something we ought to be living by, not just doing a vague Hebrew or Greek word study on. According to Strachan, Colson would live it.

In this book, Owen Strachan gives an overview of Colson’s life and then shows how we can learn from this. Strachan especially focuses on the way Colson interacted with the culture. After serving time for a Watergate-related crime, Colson began a prison ministry which became Prison Fellowship and its spin-offs including Angel Tree, Justice Fellowship, and the Wilberforce Forum (since Colson’s passing known as the Colson Center for Christian Worldview).

Strachan notes two things about Colson’s approach: (1) He knew—not only believed, but knew—that Jesus changes lives, and (2) he did not wittingly compromise the Gospel in his work. Many times he was challenged for bringing religion to the “public square,” but if Jesus is truly Lord, He is lord of governments as well. I believe the Bible calls Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Strachan also notes that there are many ways people can minister in the public square as Colson did. He believes the three most significant problems in our country are at their root moral questions. These three are abortion, the natural family, and religious liberty. Also important are sex trafficking and racial unity. A few years ago I happened to see a film of a Billy Graham crusade in San Francisco from 1958. Even back in the fifties, Graham believed that the two biggest sins Americans faced were sexual immorality and racism. It really has not changed much in sixty years. Indeed, in many cases it has gotten worse.

The Colson Way is direct and clear. Learn from Colson. Work in whatever field God has called you to and bring God’s love to the culture. In some instances the culture will be hostile, but God’s truth is eternal.

The book is very consciously geared to “millennials.” Strachan does this because he fears that many younger Christians do not know who Charles Colson was, what he did, or what he stood for. I think of a former student of mine who was recently challenged by a well-known senator for his orthodox religious beliefs. Who would have thought? Doesn’t the Constitution say there shall be no religious test for public office? Doesn’t the Bill of Rights tell Americans that they are free to live according to their religious beliefs?

We live in an upside-down world. Indeed, it is so upside down that one writer called God’s way the Upside-Down Kingdom because our way of doing things without God is so different, even though it ultimately makes little sense. I am reminded of Acts 17:6 when some of the disciples were accused of “turning the world upside down.” Ah, but who promised that the first shall be last and the last shall be first? It was neither a politician nor a philosopher. (See Matthew 19:30)

The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15)

Millennial Christians, read this book. Those of you older and younger, take a look, too. It will be worth it.

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