Embracing the person of Jesus
I want to publicly thank whomever recommended to me that I read John Eldredge’s recent book Beautiful Outlaw. I actually think they loaned me their copy, and now I’ll have to buy them a replacement, because this one is now all marked up.
If you’re looking for a good book to read, this may be a good one to pick up (or have a friend loan you). Eldredge (you may know him from his book Wild at Heart) helps us rediscover Jesus as a very real person. Yes, He is fully God, and yes, He is fully man, but as a mysterious both, God the Creator did not cast off His infinite personality to become a flannel board, neutered get-well card of a deity.
That’s where Eldredge shines. Through each of the four chapters I’ve read so far, he unpacks a different facet of Jesus that leaks through the pages of the Gospels when you read them – really read them – as truth and reality rather than as airbrushed religiosity.
Reading the Gospels without the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off.
We must “strip away the benevolent religious fog that continues to creep into our reading” and seek to hear and see Jesus as He was/is rather than as we want Him to be. I suspect that we depersonalize Jesus in our minds because of unbelief and unwillingness.
Unbelief, because though we spout off our belief in Christ, we don’t live like He was a real person with a steel will. We don’t operate daily in healthy, exuberant awe of a God who is in control and who has lavishly poured out His love and affection upon us in Christ. Unwillingness, because as long as we keep Jesus at arm’s length and as a concept, we don’t have to obey Him as a King. We are unwilling to allow Jesus as a real King with real decrees to have sovereignty over our daily lives.
So we profess belief in a flannel board, Sunday School Jesus that we can keep safe from harm and accusation by embracing a two-dimensional personality of being “loving and compassionate.” We pick those two dimensions of Jesus because, perhaps, we feel they are the least offensive and most globally appealing.
Beautiful qualities, and certainly true of Jesus. But two-dimensional. Especially when we color these virtues with religious tones. Love turns sickly sweet and compassion soft and limp. How is it possible to genuinely and consistently love anything so two-dimensional? Loving and compassionate – it’s like trying to love a get-well card.
Hooked yet? Let me know if you pick it up and begin reading. And remind me if you were the one that recommended it to me (and if I need to buy you a replacement… because you’re not getting this one back).