Tuesday, January 12, 2016

500-year-old Bestselling Author Speaks to Modern Christians

I asked my friend James Watkins, whose book The Imitation of Christ: Classic Devotions in Today’s Language releases today, to tell me about this modernized and organized edition of Thomas à Kempis’ best-seller of 500 years. Jim directed me to talk to Thomas à Kempis’ himself:

Thank you for joining us, Thomas. Let me begin by asking, why the “Imitation of Christ”?
“These are the words of Christ from John 8: ‘If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness.’ They teach us how thoroughly we must imitate Jesus’ life and character if we desire true understanding and freedom.” (I.1).

Your amazing book has been a best-seller for over 500 years. So, why did you write it anonymously?
“Do not let the writer’s authority or learning influence you, but let the love of pure truth attract you to read. Do not ask, ‘Who said this?’ but pay attention to what is said.” (I.5)

That idea of putting the message ahead of our need for recognition seems to be a recurring theme in the book.
“Christ teaches, ‘My friend, the more you let go of your own desires, the more you will become like me. When you stop living for yourself, you will grow into union with me.” (III.56).

Your writing also seems to directly contradict today’s encouragement to “believe in yourself.”
“We often do wrong and, worse, excuse it. Sometimes we are moved by human passion and count it as godly zeal. We criticize little faults in others and pass over great faults in ourselves.” (II.5).

This book runs completely counter to much of what we hear and read in Christian media today.
“Jesus has many lovers of his heavenly kingdom but few bearers of his cross. He has many seekers of comfort but few willing to face troubles and trial. Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to undergo adversity for his sake. Many love Jesus so long as no troubles happen to them.” (II.11).

Thanks for some convicting truths, Thomas.  May we learn true humility as we seek to imitate Jesus, the Christ.

To order The Imitation of Christ: www.TheImitationOfChristDevotions.com

Do any of the words from The Imitation of Christ resonate with you? 


  1. Hi Jen! I have loved and been challenged by The Imitation of Christ for many years now. My dad, who is 90, just asked if I would download it on his Kindle.
    In your interview, I have to agree with his observation that we often do wrong, and somehow excuse it. It's hard work to become more like Christ. And certainly not in our human nature.
    Best of blessings on your friend's publication!

  2. Jen! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I can't tell you any particular passage that resonated with me. I liked the way the passages marked " the disciple" read almost like prayers. I am re-reading it as my devotional for this year. Yes, I intend to read it four more times this year.


Oh, it's YOU! I'm so happy to see you here today, and look forward to reading your comments.