The Imitation of Christ was originally written in the Middle Ages by a monk, Thomas A. Kempis. It’s mind blowing devotional literature, to use the modern expression, but firmly in keeping with the essence of the best Christian devotional literature that points to God.
In a nutshell it’s about accepting one’s sufferings, trials, and whole of life as Jesus Christ would–that one has crosses to bear in life,as Jesus did, but that we can accept those crosses like Jesus did. It’s about accepting anything that comes one’s way in life with a gracious touch, and to suffer it as Christ would have done. This lies at the heart, as far as I can see, of The Imitation of Christ.
Imitating Christ this way, I thought, would open you up to people taking advantage of you, for you would never fight back no matter what they did or said to you. The book goes against the grain of retaliation when it seems the fairest way is to fight back for what people do to you. But you passively don’t fight back and actively accept the challenge not to fight back and accept one’s suffering with grace. This is the other worldly challenge that is so compelling about the book that one must contemplate and consider it seriously as about turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, and doing good to those who persecute you–because God does the same.
I wouldn’t call myself an avid devotional reader apart from the Bible and some devotional literature I dabbled in without reading to the end. I have been disappointed with my foray into the devotional genre. I have read very little of it, unfortunately. The devotional literature I have read is minimal, so minimal in fact, that the devotional book I’ve actually finished is the only devotional book (apart from the Bible) I’ve finished in its entirety and that’s The Imitation of Christ.
It’s so good I couldn’t put it down.
For me, it’s humbling, challenging, inspiring, and glorifies God, and can put ‘ego’ (I word I doubt was used in the Middle Ages) in perspective. It takes one by the heart and spirit as much as the eloquence. I didn’t entirely grasp or go along with the final section, but The Imitation of Christ is beautifully written as if God was orchestrating his music through it.