I’ve been reading Jared Wilson’s writings for some 5 years now. First at Thinklings, then at his first solo blog, Mysterium Tremendum, then at Shizuka Blog and now at the Gospel-Driven Church. His blogging, perhaps more than any other, has stretched and moved my thinking spiritually over the years. So when given the opportunity to review his book, I jumped at the chance.
The picture above should give some insight into how I liked the book. That’s my copy and each sticky note is for a quote that I wanted to come back to. There’s a lot of good, quotable stuff in here. Here’s a couple:
[Jesus] is a king who looks out at every single person in other kingdoms, sees them doing sinful things, and says to himself, I want that person.
Jesus the King, p. 192
He didn’t perforate the veil. He didn’t put a dotted line on the veil so we’d know where to use our scissors. He didn’t put a “tear here” label on the veil and add a ziplock enclosure so we could seal it back up if we wanted. He absolutely ripped the thing in half. One act. Fully complete.
Jesus the Sacrifice, p. 208
Reconciliation presents salvation as it really is – as Jesus the Savior taking dead strangers to God and transforming them into living friends.
Jesus the Savior, p. 274
Going in, because I had such high expectations, I wondered if I would be disappointed. Mostly, I was not (we’ll get to the ‘mostly’ later). The book delivered the excellent writing, the meaty content and the snark that I’ve come to expect from Jared.
Jared’s style is such that you might think this is a light weight, casual read. It is, but it’s chock full of meat and peppered with references to other books that I bet aren’t near as easy to digest. Jared puts deep theological concepts within your grasp, partly by skimming their surface, but mostly by putting them in deceptively plain language. He has a knack for putting powerful things in simple terms. As a result, while it’s an easy read, you never loose sight that this is a man who’s done his homework and knows of what the speaks. He writes with both ease and authority.
The casual, sometimes sarcastic, tone may be off-putting to some. In fact, Michael Spencer said in his review that older folks (past their 40’s) might not get some of the cultural references and may not appreciate the “Driscoll-esque rhetorical style” of Jared’s writing. I’m 42, so I’m on the bubble and I did find it tiring in a couple of spots, but mostly it adds to the topic rather than taking away. I mean you’ve gotta love stuff like this:
This man Jesus, who as a kid pooped in his diapers and wet his bed like the rest of us; who sweated and bled, and got morning breath, and had BO, and was sort of a mama’s boy, says to the religious leaders of his day, “Hey, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Jesus the Lord, p. 257
A couple spots of too much snark and a couple of chapters that seemed to go a little long were the minor things in the ‘mostly’ from above. Minor quibbles, frankly, that shouldn’t stop anyone from reading this book. But, if a little sarcasm and snark rub you the wrong way, maybe this isn’t the book for you.
Which would be a shame, because the one thing that stands out, above all else, in this book is Jared’s unashamed passion and enthusiasm for Jesus. This is something that isn’t heard much in Christian circles, unfortunately. Frankly, I hadn’t noticed it was missing until I saw Jared relentlessly preaching Jesus and the gospel. Oh, we hear a lot of Bible things that we can do to improve our marriages, our kids, our finances or be better or happier people, but not enough just plain Jesus (who is the answer to all that stuff anyway). There are several spots in the book where you can feel his excitement over what aspect of Jesus he’s describing. Like this:
This is what a prophet does. This is what Jesus the prophet does. He inserts himself into our workaday lives, he invades our space and exposes our hearts. He tells us the ugly truth about ourselves, but not to shame or punish us, but to open us up, to provoke is and prompt us, to disarm our defenses and turn us – all of us, our whole selves – toward him. He dismantles our bland religion and hypothetical spirituality, he tears down our heartless theology and our faithless works. He infiltrates the very core of our existence and proclaims not our betterment or our improvement or our worthiness, but his own glory and power.
Jesus the Prophet, p. 55
This is a man passionate about his Savior, amazed by him and, frankly, shocked that you aren’t floored by Jesus too. And if you read this book and aren’t more passionate about Jesus, I wonder if you were paying attention. His enthusiasm is contagious and ought to move you when you’re done.
Jared’s done a lot for my faith over the years, and I think this book will do a lot for the faith of those who chose to read it. It will stick with you and make you think. I highly recommend it.
This post is part of the blog tour for Jared C. Wilson’s new book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe, Outgrowing a Drive-Through, Feel-Good Savior. In return for writing this review, I was given a free copy of the book. No expectation or promise of a favorable review was given. It just happened ’cause the book is darn good.