The 7-Day Christian (Hardcover)
How Living Your Beliefs Every Day Can Change the World
by Brad Wilcox
Christianity is facing great opposition. No one is being thrown to lions, but many followers of Christ face persecution because of their beliefs. At the very least, most know how it feels to end up on the wrong side of a "politically correct" conversation. More than ever before, we need believing and behaving disciples—men and women who are ready to stand up and stand together to change the world as early Christians did: one righteous choice at a time.
Filled with personal experiences and insightful stories, this book emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with our values every single day, with practical suggestions for how to actually pull it off. "Christ doesn't just want people to acknowledge His grace," writes Brad Wilcox. "He wants them to be transformed through it. He doesn't just want people to come to Him. He wants them to become like Him— a process that takes place 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, and throughout all the years of our lives.
- Size: 5x7½
- Pages: 154
- Publisher: Ensign Peak 2014
- ISBN: 978-1-60907-851-5
About the Author
BRAD WILCOX has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, and New Zealand; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education from the University of Wyoming. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader’s Digest. He once served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the United State, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He and his wife, Debi, are the parents of four children.
The 7-Day Christian
“IF ANY MAN WILL DO HIS WILL, HE SHALL KNOW”
Is there a God?” This may be one of the world’s most frequently asked questions. I’ve heard it from people who are religious and nonreligious, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, young and old, in private and in public. It is articulated with great intensity by sincere seekers of truth, but it has been demeaned to the level of a joke by cynical comedians. One way or another, everyone seems to take a turn asking this question of all questions.
Some answer with an emphatic yes, others with an equally emphatic no. Many waver between opinions, depending on the occasion, while some claim the answer doesn’t even matter. But it does. Our response affects what we believe about life here and now as well as in the hereafter. It affects how we value and interact with other people and also how we see our own potential, our ability to make positive changes, and our motives for even trying.
THE GREAT DEBATE
Faithful Christians provide evidence for God’s existence—the scriptures, the wonders of creation, the upward yearnings they feel, miraculous conversions, and answers they have received to their prayers. The faithless counter with their own evidence. They claim scriptures are myths and fables, creation results from big bangs and natural selection, upward impulses are self-delusion or prelingual memories. Answers to prayer are nothing more than self-fulfilling prophecy, coincidence, or fate.
The faithful ask, “What about conscience, our inborn moral compass?” The faithless declare that conscience is merely the product of social conditioning. The faithful ask, “What about our tendency to experience guilt and our ability to differentiate between regret for mistakes and remorse for sin?” The faithless respond that these are merely the result of indoctrination.
Back and forth rages the debate, with each round becoming more and more intense. Advocates on both sides demand tolerance for their own viewpoints but sometimes offer little tolerance for the viewpoints of others. What ultimately determines an individual’s choice? Surely it varies, as each must make his or her own decision. But one piece of evidence that has been crucial for me as I step back and consider the options is that I can step back and consider the options. To me the very possibility for debate is strong evidence that a Supreme Being does exist—one who has created us in His image and allows us to reason and make choices. I don’t see plants and animals having discussions about whether or not God exists. Simply being complex enough to consider both possibilities sets humans apart.
Can evolution alone truly account for our complexity and unpredictability? Human abilities and potential cannot be reduced to anything that natural selection alone would have called for. Consider how profoundly we can love, how openly we can cry, how boisterously we can laugh, how deeply we can hurt, and how boundlessly we can feel joy. In addition to feeling these strong emotions for ourselves, we experience empathy that allows us to feel these same emotions on behalf of others. We can feel grief at another’s suffering; we can feel joy at another’s success. This common humanity goes far beyond self-awareness and survival of the fittest.
Animals eat for survival, but people can seek out and appreciate a fine restaurant. Animals use smell to hunt, but people can use the same sense to savor moments and later trigger memories. As humans, not only can we separate our actions from ourselves, we can reflect on them. What animal can say, “Such behavior wasn’t like me”? What animal is capable of honest introspection? We are different because we can conceive of a better version of ourselves. What animal can redefine itself in this way?
We can step outside ourselves and consider questions that go far beyond the bounds of our own life experiences. At times we ponder such questions with fleeting curiosity. At other times we literally ache to learn and to know. How many chemical reactions can create such meaning as they take place? This ability seems evidence enough for me to choose to believe there is a God.
Others may come to the same conclusion and believe in God’s existence, but our search for understanding does not stop with this decision. What evidence do we have that God does anything more than exist? A Supreme Being could exist and be completely apathetic, distant, and cold. We could just be a few more of His creations about which He has no concern. Perhaps God may even be selfish and cruel. What evidence do we have that God is not a tyrant who delights in torturing us? Certainly many who have experienced trials and heartaches have questioned God’s love. Once again, one of the decision factors for me as I consider God’s attributes is that I have multiple options and the opportunity to choose. My freedom to choose seems an assurance that God is benevolent, caring, and concerned rather than controlling.
My friend Wendy Ulrich wrote, “Faith is a choice we make amid alternatives, not what is left over after all competing worldviews have been neatly eliminated” (“The Presence of an Absence,” 178). Consider how evenly the evidence of God’s existence or nonexistence is displayed. To me, that distribution says something about God’s character. It appears He doesn’t want to manipulate the evidence unfairly in either direction—not because He is apathetic about what I believe but because He wants me to be completely free to make my own choice.
Freedom brings with it great risks and the possibility of pain, but it is absolutely necessary for progress and fulfillment. Because God wants us to have peace and joy, He desires us to believe in Him, but if the evidence were too clear in His favor, we would be “forced” to accept it as we are “forced” to accept the law of gravity. To me, one of the clearest evidences of God’s goodness is that He does not prove himself to us beyond all possibility of doubt. The fact that He allows compelling evidence on both sides of the argument of His existence preserves and honors my freedom. Growth and happiness are totally dependent on my choices, and since God allows me freedom to choose, I can conclude that He desires my growth and happiness. He may ultimately want me to believe, but more important, it appears He wants me to want to believe.
Terryl and Fiona Givens have written, “There must be grounds for doubt as well as belief, in order to render the choice more truly a choice. . . . When faith is a freely chosen gesture, it expresses something essential about the self” (The God Who Weeps, 4â€“5).
In the end, believers find it more reasonable to believe in God than to believe in a never-ending stream of “coincidences” necessary to account for life on earth. They do not believe that by chance the earth came into existence a perfect distance from the sun or that by random luck it functions with a rare elliptical orbit and tilt that allow life to exist. They do not think it is a twist of fate that we have a moon at the precise distance to allow for tides that sustain life instead of destroying it. To believers, the ratio of protons and electrons in each atom and the complexity of each body system and organ are much more than good fortune.
Nevertheless, nonbelievers claim that in the vastness of the universe the probability of such twists of fate all coming together at the exact same time may not be as outrageous as it seems. To them, a chain of random accidents is more reasonable than a belief in God.
While everyone argues for his or her side, the fact that there are two sides and freedom to choose between them makes a difference to me. There is strong and compelling evidence on both sides of the argument of God’s existence, but neither side can “prove” anything beyond the possibility of doubt. To me, this balance of pros and cons says much about God’s goodness. I choose to believe that God exists and that He cares because He obviously values my freedom enough to let me make that choice and live with the consequences. He wins my devotion, praise, and worship precisely because He refuses to force me to make these offerings.
We can believe God exists partly because He gives us the precious capacity to contemplate His existence. We can believe God cares about our choices because He gives us complete freedom to make them. But is that enough? Surely a God who exists and cares must desire something more from us and for us. Surely a God who endowed us with capacity and preserved our freedom wants us to use that freedom to develop our capacity. Surely He doesn’t want us to make just any choices, but to make wise and deliberate choices to draw closer to Him.
FAITH, OBEDIENCE, AND KNOWLEDGE
I attended a meeting at which the man directing finished his remarks with the words, “May you be at peace with God whatever you conceive Him to be.” I’m sure his words were chosen carefully in an effort to not offend anyone, but they left me unsettled. Are we really at liberty to conceive God? Can we invent Him, alter Him, or change Him to fit our ideas? Isn’t it more important to seek to know Him as He is and allow Him to influence us?
Jesus taught, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). We can come to know God by following Jesus (see Matthew 16:24; Luke 9:23). Jesus explained, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).Such knowledge is possible for those ready to live on a higher plane. God doesn’t want this life to be an endless debate or a guessing game. We can know for ourselves, and one way in which we prepare ourselves to receive this knowledge is to do God’s will. No wonder David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons have written, “The truest knowing comes in the doing” (UnChristian, 225). True faith inevitably leads to action. Faith in Jesus Christ always leads to repentance and change. Repentance and obedience are not replacements for faith but extensions of it—substance of our acceptance of Christ and evidence that Christ is working with, in, and through us. John F. MacArthur, Jr., wrote, “Obedience . . . is the inevitable characteristic of those who are saved” (Faith Works, 121).
The faithless see commandments as inconveniences or pointless burdens. The faithful see them as divine gifts from a loving God who is helping us know Him. The faithless see commandments as limiting their freedom. The faithful see them as insuring and expanding it.
When my children were young, I was asked to direct a study-abroad program in New Zealand as part of my work. Our family had a wonderful experience living in Auckland and traveling throughout that amazing country. One day my son Russell, who was sixteen years old at the time, came to me and said, “Dad, bungee jumping was invented here.”
“Cool!” I responded.
“Dad, you don’t get it. Bungee jumping was invented here.”
“Cool!” I said again.
Then Russell dropped the bomb: “So I have to go bungee jumping.”
“No,” I said. “You do not have to go bungee jumping!”
“But, Dad, it was invented here.”
I said, “I know where the electric chair was invented, but that doesn’t mean—”
“Please, Dad,” Russell interrupted. “I really want to go bungee jumping.”
Over the next few weeks he persisted in his pestering and pleading until I finally gave in. I had seen bungee towers in the United States at amusement parks and in grocery store parking lots—always surrounded by plenty of air mattresses at the bottom. I thought, “How dangerous can it really be?” Then I discovered that’s not the way they do it in New Zealand—land of no lawsuits! They jump out of helicopters. They jump off bridges into rivers. They jump off sheer mountain cliffs with no air mattresses at the bottom. There are only rocks (and tombstones).
I still remember the day that Russell, his older sister, and some friends decided to throw themselves off a mountainside in Queenstown. They took their turns being strapped into the harness that was attached to the bungee cord. To me it looked like an old-fashioned corset that was cinched up tight in the back. When the man working the jump put Russell into the harness, he tightened it to the point that my son squeaked out, “Dad, I can’t breathe. It’s too tight.”
My immediate response was, “It is not too tight!” I actually didn’t know how tight it was, but I wanted it tighter! Why? Because I wanted him to live through the experience. I didn’t want my son to snap his back.
How foolish would a person be to remove the harness before jumping, saying, “This harness is too tight. I want to be free!” He’s free all right, but for how long? His freedom ends—and it ends very abruptly, painfully, and permanently. Because Russell was willing to put up with the tight harness, he was the one who was truly free—free to jump, which he did (Superman style)! He was free to buy the very expensive video of the experience, which he did. He was free to show it to everyone who dared visit our home for the next year, which he did. Russell was free because of the harness, not in spite of it. God’s rules, expectations, standards, and commandments are not restricting cords that bind us down. They are the bungee cords that allow us to fly!
God patiently allows us to debate His existence, but He certainly doesn’t want that to be the end of our learning experience. He grants us time to ponder about His character, but only for a greater purpose. Consider the situation in reverse. God doesn’t spend all His time wondering whether we exist. He knows it. He spends less time questioning our characters and more time shaping them. Just as He knows us perfectly, He desires that we come to know Him. “Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Asking, seeking, knocking—in each application God is asking us to do something. Too many say, “You can’t know God exists. Even if He does, you can’t know His character or intentions. You can believe, but you can’t know.” However, Jesus taught, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). My own experience has confirmed to me that as I strive to do God’s will, I have come to know Him better. And the better I know Him, the more I love Him and desire to serve Him and emulate Him.
Many in the world look at God’s commandments as true-false or multiple-choice options on a test He is giving us. I don’t see them as God’s test as much as His lesson. I don’t see God grading us as much as He is educating us. Perhaps the key to living the way we believe is realizing that ultimately we are not limited to believing. By living lives consistent with our faith, we can know. And when we know, we can live securely and joyfully in worshipful emulation of our Lord—not just on Sunday, but 7 days a week.
Just what I needed!
by Lisa - reviewed on April 21, 2014
I love fiction books, if you were to look at my "read" shelf, you would see it full of books that have given me hours of entertainment. While I try to live my religion on a daily basis, I admit that there is a fear inside me of rejection. What if I review religious books? Will I offend someone? I began to realize that it is more important for me to read and review the books, not just for me to find strength, but to stand up for my beliefs and let other's know there are wonderful books that can entertain as well as uplift my spirit. I found myself caught up in this book from the Introduction. Brad Wilcox begins with the history of Christianity. I found the story of Constantine fascinating. He recounts the persecution of the early believers of Christ, and how we are now facing a time when it is becoming increasingly unpopular to be a Christian. It forced me to take a closer look at the fears I mentioned above. Who and what do I value? This book is written in a way that is very appealing. Brad Wilcox shares stories to illustrate his points. There are 10 chapters. Some of the titles that I found the most compelling are #3 Never Check Your Religion At the Door, #6 Facing Our People Fears, #9 Standing Together, #10 The Core of Christianity. Those are the titles that stood out to me, but each chapter can be taken and applied to life to help us strive to live our religion more fully and openly. In chapter 2, titled Anyone Can Write a Story, I dog eared page 30. He states " Integrity fears no hidden cameras. The actions that count the most in life are those seen by the fewest people. We feel peace when we know that the size of our audience makes no difference to the quality of our performance. The every-day Christian acts seen only by Christ are usually the ones that make us most like Him." On page 87 in Chapter 7, Seven Days of Re-Creation, another quote stuck out to me. "Choosing to be a 7-day Christian is choosing to be changed." This is a book that I needed. In January I sent my son to Chile to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I decided at that time that I needed to face my fears and choose to change. This book has helped me put my feet more firmly on that path. Thank you, Brad Wilcox, for a wonderful book that helps me see the need for change and firm my desire to do better. I will continue to read fiction books. I will begin to read more books that will help me in my eternal path too. Life is too short to be afraid and not true to oneself or core beliefs.
Full of Uplifting Remembrance of Discipleship
by Jinky - reviewed on May 08, 2014
I am a Christian (Mormon) and so I like the premise of living a Christian life seven days a week as opposed to just on Sundays. Try as I may I often fall short in living accordingly every single day so I was eager to see what I can learn from this book on the matter. Although the general principles were not new to me, the author had interesting ways of looking at them from another view. The test in the distinction of this book would then be in its delivery of the content. There I say, "Well done!" This was so because every key principle was backed up with scripture from the Holy Bible and with a personal example, whether his or someone else's. Doing it this way gave the truth character and accountability. For example, in the chapter, "Without Wax", the principle of sincerity was discussed ... "Those who claim to be Christians must live lives that are sincere --clean, pure, sound --the same on the inside as they appear on the outside." (p47). Here, the author referenced Matthew 23:25 and as a personal experience he told the story of when he helped a young mother carry her suitcases. It was a simple act of service on the author’s part but the young mother saw it as so rare as to be convinced that he must have been an angel. Consequently, a principle was defined and now Christians are answerable to that fundamental truth and have a choice to act on what Jesus would have them do. Ergo, the principle of sincerity wasn't new to me but hearing it again in action was invigorating and this book was full of such uplifting remembrance of discipleship. I know I should be living a Christlike life everyday so this book was a magnificent cause to do some reflection and provided inspiration to make it happen. It also imparted strong regard to the benefits of righteous living on individuals and society. Noting the empowerment one has to help change the view of Christians for the positive. I like the straightforwardness writing of this author. It wasn't overwhelming in scripture as to get preachy nor his examples boastful. I felt a gentleness, a sincerity, and experience in the read so it wasn't a surprise that my spirit softened to the words and I believe that your Christian heart will feel the same. Perhaps if we hear the truths enough times, they might finally sink in! :) **Hardcover provided by publicist in exchange for an honest review.
LIve Your Beliefs Daily!!
by Melanie - reviewed on April 30, 2014
Brad Wilcox is one of my favorite authors and speakers, so I was excited to see that he has a new book and was really intrigued by the title. This book is a great reminder that it's important to work every day towards becoming more Christ-like. Chapter One starts with the big question, "Is there a God?" He also goes into the great debate on this question where there are those who give an emphatic yes to that question and those who will give an equally emphatic no. Each side produces evidence to support their belief. The beauty of it all is that we are given the freedom to choose whether or not we believe in God. I like what he says about this. "To me, one of the clearest evidences of God's goodness is that He does not prove himself to us beyond all possibility of doubt. The fact that He allows compelling evidence on both sides of the argument of His existence preserves and honors my freedom...He may ultimately want me to believe, but more important, it appears He wants me to want to believe." (p. 11) In another chapter, he says to not check your religion at the door, but rather to live it wherever you may be. There are times when that won't be easy to do, but it does matter. I also loved his chapter titled "Seven Days of Re-Creation." He tells how the pattern God used when He created the earth is the same pattern He uses to re-create us. Then he shares his experience of losing weight and running (first a 5K and later a half marathon), which he started at the age of 50. I found that to be quite inspiring! There are quotes, scriptures and stories to back up his points as he goes through each chapter. He concludes with a chapter titled "The Core of Christianity." Having recently celebrated Easter, Christ's resurrection and atonement has been on my mind a lot. He had a conversation with a man who told him that it didn't matter if Jesus was resurrected or not and it only has relevance in the next life. He disagreed and said, "Knowledge of Christ's resurrection not only changes the hereafter, it can also change what we are here after. It can profoundly affect our choices, our loves, our priorities, and our ways of reaching our potential." (p. 136) There are lots of great gems to be found in this book. It is possible for each of us to make a difference in the world simply by living our beliefs on a daily basis. This is a book I will definitely read again and again and I highly recommend it to everyone!
WOW! SO AMAZINGLY WONDERFUL!
by Shauna - reviewed on April 15, 2014
WOW! SO WISH I COULD JUST COPY THE WHOLE BOOK FOR YOU! AMAZING insights! WONDERFUL lessons! BEAUTIFUL examples! Being a Christian is more than just going to church on Sundays....it is a way of life. "7-days a week, 52 weeks a year, and throughout all the years of your life." Using personal stories Brad Wilcox shows us the ways we can increase our becoming more Christian... our becoming more like Christ. Simple, yet sometimes hard, practices that will shape us into who we were meant to be. Things like: * Live life with a sense of urgency and a sense of integrity. * Never check your religion at the door. * Become trusting and happy like a child. * Face your people fears. * and MORE I REALLY LOVED this idea: "Just as the earth went through 7 days of creation, we must also go through 7 days of re-creation...a process of being formed, divided, enlightened, beautified, and filled with life." It is time to take a stand! Let this book help you become a 7-day Christian!
by Customer - reviewed on April 03, 2014
Brad Wilcox is a wonderful author because all his books are insightful, but they are not the same. In every book he presents new material and ideas I have not considered before. I love what he shares about how early Christians changed the world. I had never thought of it like that before. I loved how he shared his own experiences (writing a first place story in high school and running a half marathon) in a way that allowed me to relate and feel motivated. He uses humor throughout. I loved the stories about and from little kids in the chapter on obtaining childlike attributes. My favorite chapters were the first one on how we can know there is a God and the last one in which he focuses on what is truly at the core of Christianity. These are issues that are debated over and over and most authors get way too complicated for me. When Brad Wilcox teaches about them they seem so simple and clear. I get it. The best thing I can say about this book is that I had an "ah-ha" moment at least once in every chapter. It was truly inspiring!
So interesting and worth reading!
by Alexis - reviewed on April 17, 2014
This is a great book to help us better understand what it means to be a Christian and how to show that to others. Not in an intrusive way, but by living a life that shows discipleship of Christ. By taking little steps along the way, we can each become a Christian every day of the week and help make the world a better place. The 7-day Christian is so interesting and full of personal stories, quotes, and examples that you want to just keep reading more! I love the simple way he explains things, his use of classical literature to support his ideas, and how easy it is to read!
Gives me hope
by Customer - reviewed on April 01, 2014
I absolutely loved this book. It gave me hope that it's really possible to use the Savior's teachings to guide my decisions. I found myself nodding in agreement again and again. But its not just a dry checklist of suggestions. I was so inspired that I couldn't put it down until I was finished. I recommend everyone read this, and then go back and read it again.