I am suddenly a fan of Office Depot. The following endorsement is given in return for a favor, but no money changed hands. Either way. Which is the point.
I took my sick laptop (the one I write on) in to Off. Dep. today. An associate and a technician spent about 45 minutes with me, found the problem, fixed it, and sent me home at no charge whatever.
You could have knocked me over with a USB connector.
I really, really needed some stuff I’ve got on there, too.
I reviewed Jared Wilson’s Your Jesus Is Too Safe the other day, and spoke portentously of an insight I’d had while reading it. Chances are many of our smart, attractive readers know this already, but I’ll share it anyhow.
Like all Christians (I suspect), I have Bible passages that I like less than, say, John 3:16, or Romans 8. One of them comes from Revelation 21:1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
I picked it up without great anticipation, assuming from the title that it would probably be lots of things I already knew, plus a guilt trip on a deeper Christian life which would only depress me. But I read it with great interest (almost the same as if it had been a novel), and benefited it from it. Continue reading Your Jesus Is Too Safe, by Jared Wilson→
The title of Jared’s first book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior, brings to mind J.B. Phillips’ classic book, Your God Is Too Small: Miracle Grow for Your Puny Religious Imagination (OK, I made up that subtitle, and Phillips would not have thought it funny). What I remember most of Phillips’ book is the first part, the destructive part, in which he tears down inadequate views of the Almighty. I expected to find Jared’s book similarly organized, but it isn’t. He doesn’t spend much time describing poor views of Jesus, like Hippie Jesus or the inhuman Flannel-graph Jesus. He touches on them in the context of healthy views on Jesus’ role as a shepherd, a judge, a prophet, a king, and many others.
Something Jared says while discussing one role puts a finger on his approach to the whole book. “In contemplating Jesus as Shepherd, I’m most tempted to make a short list of things shepherds do—the shepherd’s responsibilities chart—and cram Jesus into and see how he fits. Some books actually take this tack. I believe this is a backward way to go about things—sort of getting the cart before the horse . . . or sheep, I guess.” Jesus—the real, historic, biblical Jesus—is the focus on the book. If a reader finds it unfamiliar or oddly lacking in application, then I suggest they question whether they may be influenced by preaching and reading that presents the Christian life as a pattern of moral behaviors, who Jesus is not being nearly as important as what he supposedly wants us to do. Your Jesus Is Too Safe is a Christian Living book, but not a book with 40 ways to have a victorious Christian life. Just to iron out any possible subtly here, the latter book is the safe one; this book isn’t safe.
It isn’t too dangerous either. Even though Jared jokes about making readers angry when talking about Jesus’ humanity, (he says people in some circles get riled at the suggestion that Jesus may have relieved his bowels at some point during his life) he does not draw excessive lines in the sand and call out the heretics lurking in every church. He is very charitable, while presenting sound, biblical portraits of Jesus. I appreciate how he reasons deeply from the Scripture and does not fill each chapter with personal stories or extra-biblical illustrations. It’s a darn good book, in other words.
One outstanding point of interest for readers of Brandywine Books is the section on Jesus’ human intelligence. Jared quotes from Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracyto say Jesus isn’t generally considered smart because “the world has succeeded in opposing intelligence to goodness.” Saintly people who are also brilliant are considered anomalies in the world, if their brilliance is recognized (I suppose Chesterton’s Father Brown was one). Some Christians take this idea so far as to discourage heavy study, even in theology, but noting that Jesus was God in human form, Jared states “anytime a Christian denies the importance of reading, learning, and studying . . . one is, practically speaking, denying the incarnation.” So loving the Lord our God with all our minds may mean reading Plato or Shakespeare because doing so would enrich our imaginations.