Saturday, 5 October 2013

Jesus > Religion: My review of Jefferson Bethke's new book!

Today I have the honor of reviewing Jefferson Bethke's new book Jesus > Religion. For this post, I'll be doing an overall review, but over the next week or so, I'll be posting blogs using specific quotes from the book that challenged and inspired me. This book is definitely a must read for anyone and everyone, and I love that I have the chance to recommend it to all of you :) Jesus > Religion releases on the 7th October 2013, and is available at or for all us Aussie's - Koorong also has it available :)

Jesus > Religion is one of those books that just cannot be put down. I picked it up on the first day intending to just read a couple of pages, and yet, 65 pages later, I was still eager to keep reading. What I loved about this book is the way Jefferson writes. He is very humble, and the entire book reflects back to who Jesus is, and all that He has done for us. Simply put, God gets all the glory in this book - it's not about Jeff and his poems and his theological views. And a book where God gets all the glory is a great book to read.

I think it's really important to note as well how easy this book is to read. Jefferson writes clearly and simply, and he includes discussion questions at the end of each chapter - which really helps us think about what we've just read and makes it easy to use in book clubs, small groups, or even just chatting with friends :)

And as a huge C.S. Lewis fan, I just have to say the amount of Lewis' quotes used in Jesus > Religion is awesome! Sometimes C.S. just says things in ways we cant, so it's best to just go ahead and use his words... This book definitely contained the perfect amount of of his words :)

I feel this book is relevant to everyone who has been burned by a church - who has been hurt by church leadership, and mistreated by people in the church. Jeff doesn't have all the answers, none of us do, but he explains the difference between Jesus and Religion very well. See, the thing is - Jesus' heart is never to hurt you. So when church leadership and church members hurt you - that was never from Him, never His intention. It was Christians acting from a point of religion, a point of division and hatred and judgementalism (I don't know if this was a word, but it is now!).
This book will open your eyes to the difference between who Jesus really is, and who the Church sometimes portrays Him to be.
I would also highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with the questions 'how does a good God allow so much evil in the world?' 'Why do good people suffer from bad things?'
Although there is no one answer to these questions, Jeff does a really great job of portraying what Jesus' heart is according to Scripture. We will never have complete answers this side of Heaven, but we can begin to understand God's sovereignty and heart for humanity. Jefferson's life, as you will see in this book, has been far from easy or perfect, and yet here he is writing this book and helping people understand Grace and Love. He got a revelation of Grace, and God's heart for people, and he conveys that through his words.
Another major thing I loved about this book is that Jefferson is quick to remind us that the heart is what matters. In the case of sin, it's never just about the behavior, but it's about the heart, which is always the root of the sin. This book covers so many topics that are so relevant in our culture, and they all written about from a heart of love, caring, and understanding. There is no condemnation in this book, and it's easy to see that the heart behind what Jeff is saying is not trying to answer every question and know it all - it's simply unpacking Scriptures in a different light and using his own testimony to portray Jesus' heart.

So, friends, go - buy this book! I pray that as you read, God begins to open your eyes and hearts to see that He is not religion, He is not condemning you, He is not what Christians sometimes portray Him to be - but He is so much better. You will see that He is for you, Beloved. He is for your good. He's not out to get you.

Happy reading!

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