Jesus > Religion is a game changer; this book has the potential to shift how an entire generation knows Jesus and to clearly see when He's being falsified and used, especially in the name of religion.
When Jefferson Bethke's video went viral in early 2012, what impressed me even more than his spoken word poetry was how he responded to his critics. My expectations therefore were high for Jesus > Religion and Bethke exceeded them all.
Thoughtfully unpacking the message from his video and going much deeper, Bethke is open about his own struggles and shares his faith journey.
Bethke's strength is in his gift for juxtaposition. He has the humility of someone twice his age, while speaking truth in today's vernacular. Between intersections of words, Bethke calls us all out on our hypocrisy with directness and grace.
I would highly recommend first reading this book yourself before gifting it to someone who isn't familiarity with the Bible. While Bethke does a great job of giving context to the stories he uses from the New Testament, especially in the later half of the book, not as much context is given for the Old Testament references. With discussion questions written provided at the end of each chapter, this is a great book to read and discuss with a friend.
I was impressed- that this book puts a voice to everything we know to be true in God's Word, but aren't necessary living out. Things we sometimes ignore or twist to fit our own personal form of faith. Things we stand up for_.but only to make ourselves feel better. I was impressed that Bethke did not hold back on who Jesus really is & what it really means to be a Christian.
I was challenged- this book really called me out on several things. It made me really re-examine my heart about things like_
Being a two-face AKA hypocrite
Thinking the things I do in the name of Jesus, make me a "good person".
Here's an example of a portion of the book that challenged me_
"We talk about tithing, but the single mom next door can't pay her rent.
We make sure we have our quiet times every morning, but could care less about actually conversing with Jesus.
We've never said the f- word out loud, but we have never prayed for our local homeless community either"
OUCH! Is this challenging you as much as is it me???
I was mad- at myself, at religion, at the idea that sometimes I think I know all the answers_I've done all the right things and that I'm a-okay in my book! I was mad that Christianity has gotten a bad rap because of do-gooders who feel like it's their job to look down their nose at other people with "worse" sins than their own. I was mad that, sadly, many churches have become unwelcoming to dirty filthy sinners.
Guess what? I'm a dirty, filthy, sinner_that's right. JoJo is a dirty, filthy, sinner. I'm no better than you. You're no better than me.
CAUTION: THIS BOOK MIGHT CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!
JESUS>RELIGION might change you life_. I really hope it does! But it may not. You may read this book and get mad for completely different reasons. You may feel that Jonathan is a little too honest, a little too open, a little too explicit. You may read it and think "that's too deep, I'm not ready for that yet".
But, if you are tired of keeping up the "act". Tired of constantly "performing" to earn favor. If you are ready to fess up that you've messed up, that we all have. If you're ready to experience the grace of God and see that grace extend to people you know.
Heed the invitation Jonathan writes about_
"Relax, you don't have to have it all figured out. All you need to do is come to Him (Jesus)_ He just wants dependency, He just wants you_"
In all reality this is a book I believe everyone needs to read. Whether you're a Christian or not, it is a challenging book. Jefferson walks the reader through his history with religion and Jesus. He communicates a strong message of how Jesus is greater than religion. The resounding theme of the book is everything is about Jesus, it's a message of the love of God through his Son.
The book doesn't beat around the bush, Jefferson doesn't hold back. It is message this generation needs and actually deep down wants to hear. This is your chance to take your faith to a whole new level! I encourage everyone to pick up a copy and when you are done reading, pass it along to someone else. But this is your warning_you will be challenged, you will have to make a choice to face fears and your perspective of people and sin may need altered.
While the book does discuss some heavy topics it is a VERY encouraging book. Many times are I was reading I was laughing, smiling and literally having a good time with the book. I felt as if my life was interacting with the words written. The message is a message of life! You won't regret reading this book. It is worth the time, the money and investment. It is a message you will want to share with your loved ones.