Review: Die Young

July 12th, 2012

Dying young is not tragedy. In fact, it’s the only way to live.

This sentiment, drawn from Matthew 10:39, is the guiding premise in a book full of paradoxes. In Die Young: Burying Your Self in Christ (Crossway, 2012), authors Hayley and Michael DiMarco explore ways in which following Jesus turns our assumptions upside down. They encourage readers to bury their old lives in order to make room for the resurrection life found in Jesus.

First and foremost, Christians must embrace the New Testament’s promises that death to self leads to true life—here and now, on earth. However counterintuitive this claim may be, it is only by embracing it that we truly begin the path to discipleship.

But making a decision to die to sin is only one part of the new life in Christ. Die Young also focuses on the upside-down values that go with that life. The road to exaltation is through humility. The way to contentment is not through acquiring more, but through possessing less. The way to strength is through weakness, and the way to freedom is through slavery to Christ.

Each of these paths costs us something, but each also offers surprising returns. By taking on the peculiar values of Christian life, we step away from the frustration of chasing a perfection we cannot quite attain on our own. When we surrender our pursuit of what we want, we find that God gives us those things and more, albeit in different ways that we might anticipate.

The DiMarcos, authors of popular youth books such as God Girl and God Guy, bear witness to the power of these paradoxes in their own lives. Throughout Die Young, they offer asides that relate their personal experiences of failure, loss, and redemption. The “Here Lies Hayley” and “Here Lies Michael” sections allow them to candidly share their struggles with gambling, depression, materialism, and a host of other common vices. They offer their own stories as a way to illustrate both the destructive potential of sin and the unexpected power of grace.

Die Young challenges reader with a direct style reminiscent of wisdom literature. The design of the book may be thoroughly modern—something the authors pride themselves on. But the language is far from glitzy or glib. Rather, the book presents a direct yet patient style that clearly states what dying in Christ means to the authors.

Although well-organized and well-written, Die Young is not without problems for readers in a Wesleyan perspective. The straightforward prose states a position, but does not invite much discussion or debate. Plus, the DiMarcos suggest that God orchestrates all of life, and they leave little room for our choices within it. Their views on marriage roles and treatment of Jesus’ blood sacrifice will also challenge readers from more mainline traditions.

Nevertheless, Die Young succeeds in inviting readers into a radically countercultural lifestyle in a way that feels attainable. This book may be helpful for both small groups and personal devotion for both teens and adults.

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