The book is essentially all about what it says on the front cover: Why He (Jesus) is so much better than trying harder, doing more, and being good enough.
I am in love with this book for how many BURNS it gives to many Christians (including me!) always been a fan of "oh snap" moments ;)
For my own benefit and for others, I will be typing out portions from this book that I resonate with and want a place where I can document it for easy access.
This is from the first chapter under the the title "Finding the real Jesus"
The first 6 months of my life with Jesus, I was alone and guessing how to "do" the Christian faith. I spent a lot of nights in my dorm room reading my Bible - which was better than going out and partying like I did the sem before.
Though i didn't have many christian friends, I was at a christian university. So i decided to copy what "being a christian" was all about by watching others. I took off my earrings, stopped wearing basketball jerseys, tried my hardest to memorize Hillsong United's greatest hits, and listened to the Christian radio station. I thought that if I did enough Christian things, it would bring peace to my life. It didn't work.
Six months in, I had done everything I thought I should be doing as a Christian, but I still had desires that I thought were supposed to dissapear - lust, pride, and pleasure. Wasn't Jesus supposed to make my life better? I had been duped. My "Christianity" was once again just the American religion of work hard, do good, feel good, and maybe God will say, "We good."
I realized I was following the wrong Jesus- not that there is a "wrong" Jesus - but I was following a fake version of the real one. This realization came to me as I listened to a Christian radio station one day. During a commercial break, they did a fifteen-second spot about the station that consisted of kids laughing, happy music, and the slogan, "Music you can trust, because it's safe for the whole family!"
I remember thinking, Safe for the whole family? Is Jesus really safe for the whole family?
I realized we had created a Jesus who's safe for the whole family. But if we were honest, we'd ask, how is a homeless dude who was murdered on a cross for saying he was God safe for the whole family? Not to mention that Paul told us if we choose to follow his example as a follower of Jesus, we will be treated the way he was.
We've lost the real Jesus- or at least exchanged him for a newer, safer, sanitized, ineffectual one. We've created a Christian subculture that comes with its own set of customs, rules, rituals, paradigms, and products that are nowhere near the rugged, revolutionary faith of biblical Christianity. In our subculture Jesus would have never been crucified- he's too nice.
We claim Jesus is our homeboy, but sometimes we look more like the people Jesus railed against. The same scathing indictments Jesus brought against the religious leader of his day- the scribes and Pharisees - he could bring down on many of America's Christian leaders. No wonder the world hates us. Most of the time we're persecuted not because we love Jesus, but because we're prideful, arrogant jerks who don't love the real Jesus. We're often judgemental, hypocritical, and legalistic while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic and loving.
The Jesus of the Bible is a radical man with a radical message, changing people's lives in a radical way. In the Scriptures, Jesus isn't safe. No one knew what to do with him. The liberals called him too conservative, and the conservatives called him too liberal. I mean, think about it: His first miracle was turning water into wine. He made a whip of leather and went UFC on people who'd pimped out his father's temple. He completely disregarded any social, gender, or racial boundary his society imposed. He called himself the Son of God. He called himself the judge over everyone, determining who goes to heaven and hell. He said things like, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." That's dangerous- and weird.
This is from the first chapter under the title: Not your mom's Jesus.
Once I began to realize the packaged Christianity I grew up with didn't tell the whole story, I began to see this dangerous Jesus everywhere in Scripture. I would come across passages that completely confronted my sanitized Christianity.
Jesus was homeless?
Jesus called people sons of the devil?
Jesus actually told his disciples they needed to physically follow him, not just sign a card and raise their hands?
Jesus told people they couldn't be a follower of him until they took up the most brutal torture devise ever invented, the cross?
One of my fav verses can be found in the book of Isaiah: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." We often miss that our "righteous acts" are "filthy" before God. Not just our bad days, but our extremely good days too! Praying, reading the Bible, giving to the poor, and going to church nine times a week? Filthy rags apart from Jesus and his cross. Tell me that isn't just a little bit controversial.
This abrasive message wasn't just from God the Father either. Jesus delivered his fair share of one-liners to the most religiously zealous of his day - "hypocrites," "brood of vipers," and "murderers." Would this Jesus get kicked out of your church or criticized on your blog for not being gracious or kind enough?
And don't you find it interesting that some of Jesus' harshest words were reserved for the most devout religious people of his day? You would think he would he would condemn the bad sins of marginalized people of society such as prostitutes, drug dealers, and tax collectors, right? Instead, speaking to the religious leaders, he said stuff like, "Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John [the Baptist] came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not beleive him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him.
Jesus hung out with the most marginalized and disrespected people of society, and he was fiercely opposed to anyone representing him in a hypocritical way. His words should not only shock us but also make us fear, because they were written just as much to us Christians today as they were to the religious leaders of his day, the Pharisees.
This is from the First chapter under the title: The Real Thing.
It's important to understand that Jesus never says something without a purpose. He desires everyone to come to repentance, and if he speaks harshly, it's so we'll come to know the real thing. Sometimes soft words don't penetrate, don't cut, don't wake us up.
I think Jesus was using those harsh statements to say that we've traded in the real thing for things that don't matter. We've completely missed what God is after, what he's doing, and how to relate to him. He made it very clear that he's not after our external behaviours but instead after our hearts. He doesn't want what you do. He just wants you. Have you ever sat in that? Have you ever had a moment where that sank in?
Jesus is so much greater than "don't smoke, don't drink, and don't have sex." As Christians, we need to stop forcing the Bible into our own judgments and instead humbly and prayerfully open our minds in hopes that God might reveal himself deeply. It's a dangerous and scary proposition for sure, but there is so much freedom and life in no longer defending or molding Jesus to our own liking, and just letting him be who he says he is - a culture iconoclast who makes it difficult for any of us to put him in our nice, cute, and tidy "Christian" box.
When I was trying to earn Jesus by being good, I missed the real Jesus who wants us to love him and serve him not for what he gives but who he is- dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing.