The following was written for the Your Jesus is Too Safe blog tour. Thanks to Jared C. Wilson and Kregel Publications for a copy of the book to review.
It seems fairly evident that the Christian faith is about Jesus. But that this is obvious doesn’t mean it’s not neglected or distorted. We are prone to place all sorts of other priorities above getting to know our Savior. As bad, we have a bent toward remaking him in our image. As Michael Card wrote, “We’ve made you in our image, so our faith’s idolatry.”
Two books in the past have helped me get a better handle on how we read our culture into God, instead of bring God to our culture: Donald McCullough’s The Trivialization of God, and Erwin Lutzer’s Ten Lies About God. Jared C. Wilson’s book, Your Jesus is Too Safe, is a welcome addition to volumes that set our thinking straight about our faith, and it’s focused on Jesus.
Wilson’s book gives us an overarching biblical view of Jesus. But it’s not dry, stuffy theology. It’s very much alive both with adoration for Christ and with connecting points to our culture through Wilson’s use of pop culture phrases and concepts to communicate his message. If you’re wondering how to be “relevant” about Jesus without compromising the message, this is how you do it. It’s evident that Wilson doesn’t believe he needs to make Jesus relevant, but that He already is.
And that is the greatest value of this book: It sets our thinking right about Jesus in an age in which he’s been fit into every other mold we can think of, and there can be nothing more “relevant” to our culture than presenting the “not safe but good” Jesus. If Christians get Jesus wrong, we get everything else wrong. Every generation of Christians needs to know and love Jesus, and every generation has its own challenges and obstacles to doing that. Wilson’s book faces these obstacles head-on with chapter after chapter of lucid writing about Christ.
The book lends itself very well to use in Sunday School classes or smaller group studies, and I can’t recommend it highly enough both for personal and group study. It’s the kind of edifying book about Christ that we all need.
There is one, and only one complaint I have about the book, and it is very serious: In a footnote on page 51, he insults Alf. That is almost unforgivable.
Apart from that heresy, you need to read this book.
I always loved that Michael Card line from “Know You In The Now.” Thanks for the post. As someone once said, safety is not the absence of danger, but the presence of God.
Tony- That is my favorite Card line EVER.
I’ve been thinking about something a bit lately, in my more thoughtful moments. I was raised with the idea that what we do and believe are sourced in the Bible, but I just don’t think it’s really true. In my denomination, we say that the Bible is the standard for faith and practice, but for the average believer, it’s the Christian sub-cultural norms that have been widely accepted.
Much of it is true and right, but a good bit is not. The crazy thing is that I’ve seen folks confronted with some of these inconsistencies and the biblical correction, but yet the correction doesn’t happen.
Maybe I’m rambling, but the point is this: The Bible being our foundation is only lip service for most of the Church, and the true canon is Christian sub culture.
I’m a carpenter, and one thing is universally known for us. If we hire someone, we want a guy (or gal) who knows nothing. The worst thing in the world is to have someone who has been trained badly, because it takes MAJOR work to overcome those set ways.
If only we could just soak up the Gospels without our white western cushy Jesus notions to re-enforce those ideas we hold and push away those we don’t like, then maybe we’d get a better idea of who we are worshipping.
I think I’ll go buy this book.
I like your carpenter’s assistant analogy (in part since I have a carpenter friend who says pretty much the same). I know that in my own life, the biggest thing is unlearning what I’ve learned. “It’s not what we don’t know, but what we know that isn’t so, that gets us in trouble.” Or words to that effect. There’s lots about God that I “know” that isn’t so. This book will definitely be on my reading list.
Amen bro. We discussed this topic today in a gathering of guys affectionately known as “The Dudes Group” (one of the wives calls it a hens group :-)). The train of thought today was how we lead folks into an understanding of the story of the Bible. “What’s it all about?” “Why would we just hand someone the Gospel of John and expect them to get it?” There’s some truth in that question, but typically we are not just giving them the Word and expecting it to just change them. It does, but almost always in the context of the local church. This is where the fun starts as we then pick up whatever our local carpenters are sharing with us about the Master Carpenter.
I agree that we buy into our norms instead of what God wants for us. Derek Webb’s new project (Stockholm Syndrome) has a song where he walks through the Trinity and how we desire each of Them to be for us: i.e. “I don’t want the Spirit, I want a kick drum; I don’t want the Son, I want a jury of peers; I don’t want the Father, I want a vending machine.” In big ways and small ways that’s what it boils down to for most of us. We are not holding up the mirror of the Word for ourselves and each other because we want to look good for each other. It happened in the early church too. Galatians is all over this topic – i.e. the distortion of the Gospel in order to conform to the image of a Jew not Jesus.
It is always helpful to return to the main points. As Michael Card opines in another favorite song of mine, Jesus is our “soul anchor” which reflects this passage in Hebrews 6:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
The real Jesus, not the one the one I fabricate, is what holds me together. That’s the hope folks see that begs the question (1 Peter 3:15) that leads back to Jesus—The Answer. But even the caricatures are helpful for drawing us all to the reality of Christ. There have been a number of times along the way where either I or someone I’m chatting with has the wrong idea about Him. So, we explore it further, we wrestle with it and He’s faithful in showing up to clean up our mess. Thankfully its not “measure twice, cut once” with our theology as the Spirit guides into all truth (Ephesians 4).
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