Have you ever wondered what Jesus was like? Not the Jesus nailed to the cross, but the living, breathing, human Jesus, the man who spent 33 years living as we live. In his book “Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus,” author John Eldredge takes what some might consider a radical and unreligious approach to exploring the personality of Jesus.
I suspect he’s okay with that kind of criticism. It’s sort of the point of the book. Religion as we know it is nothing like the world in Jesus’ day. “Church” wasn’t practiced in the ways it is in the modern world. Too often we see the “don’ts” of religion, and not the hope central to the teachings of Christ. Being in the temple (church) and being part of the body of Christ aren’t in the same ballpark.
Eldredge points out that In his day Jesus was more likely to upset the religious establishment than he was to agree with its leaders. Most of Jesus’ miracles, Eldredge says, were done outside the normal worship experience. And Jesus shied away from no one.
Beautiful outlaw is a good description for a man who often hung out with all the wrong people, at least as defined by the religious leaders. “Beautiful Outlaw” made me smile, laugh outright, and often caused me to nod my head in agreement. Eldredge shows Jesus exactly as he was in this life, fully human in his interactions with others. He points out that despite all the religious art that portrays Jesus as a martyred saint complete with halo, Jesus was a man with an intense interest in people. He didn’t back down from confrontation. Other than driving the money changers out of his Father’s house, he showed no tendency toward violence, nor did he seek recognition or power.
Jesus never forgot his purpose. He was not condescending, proud, vain, or loud. He asked as many questions as he answered. His ministry had little to do with what has come to be known as organized religion. Eldredge leads his readers to see Jesus in the way you would see your very best friend. Someone you can talk to; someone who will listen.
John Eldredge is an author, counselor, and teacher. As president of Ransomed Heart Ministries, he is devoted to helping people widen their understanding of God. He has written a number of books on spirituality and living in relationship with God. John lives in Colorado Spring with his wife and three sons. Click here to read an excerpt from “Beautiful Outlaw.”
If you love to read books that bring insight and new ways of thinking about Jesus, religion, and spirituality, I recommend this book.
“Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus,” is available in e-book, paperback, hard cover and audio versions. Published October 2011 by FaithWords, book prices range from $9.99 (e-book) to $17.47 (Hard Cover).
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