Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: Like Jesus

Like Jesus: Shattering Our False Images of the Real Christ. Jamie Snyder. 2016. [February 2016] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Jamie Snyder's Like Jesus was an incredible read. Is it a must-read? Is any book a must-read for Christians other than the Word of God? Well, I can only say that I hope it finds a LOT of readers, because I think it is a relevant, timely, necessary read. He challenges readers to reflect on their lives, to ask tough, uncomfortable questions. I love that he challenges assumptions and even some terminology. (For example, that we "accept" Jesus into our hearts.*)

Is the Jesus you worship, the real Jesus? That is one of the questions Snyder asks readers. This book is all about shedding ourselves of the false Jesuses we've created in our own image, and, discovering the real Jesus, the true Jesus.** He writes,
Discovering Jesus is not a once in a lifetime event---it is an endeavor that lasts a lifetime. So use this book as an opportunity to continue that journey of discovery. Perhaps it has been some time since you have intentionally thought about who Jesus is, what He is like, what He has called you to, and last but not least, which Jesus you have been following.
Jesus is not content for you to like Him; he wants you to become like Him.
This is really what the book is all about. But before you can become like HIM, before you can want to become like HIM. You have to know him, not just know about HIM, though knowing about him is perhaps the first step. You have to be able to discern between the real Jesus as revealed in the Word of God--the Bible--and the Jesus that you may have been reshaping and molding in your own heart and mind. Jesus doesn't need us to "perfect" him or "refine" him. He doesn't want us to "make him acceptable or presentable" to today's society. We need to shape our thinking of who God is, who Jesus is, by the Word of God. Not by what we would have him to be, want him to be, but by who he actually reveals himself to be.

I like the fact that the book focuses on the BECOMING. Snyder acknowledges that this side of heaven, it is impossible for anyone to actually come close to achieving "being like Jesus." But we can all be a work in progress. We can all be on the path to becoming like Jesus. He writes,
Everyone, everywhere is becoming more like someone or something. The question is, what or whom? 
I don't know about you, but, that makes me stop and THINK. And that's one reason why I loved the book so much. It isn't an instant warm-and-fuzzy book. I love that Snyder speaks truth. You don't accidentally become like Jesus. You don't accidentally stumble into a deep, meaningful relationship. It takes commitment and discipline and effort. Note: I'm not saying that Snyder is in any way saying that we earn our salvation or that we're clothed in our own righteousness or that God's approval of us is dependent on our strivings and efforts. It's obvious that Snyder embraces the amazingness of GRACE.

Another passage that made me stop and think was this one:
Our Jesus is built within our hearts and minds according to our preferences and desires. So when we study Scripture and read Jesus' teaching, we usually nod our heads in agreement, because we assume He is always talking to someone else….If you find that you can read through pages of red letters without your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your mind spinning, there is a distinct possibility you don't understand whom Jesus is talking to. He's talking to you. And me.
And also:
Many people would claim to have a relationship with Jesus, and yet the role they envision Him playing in their lives is not a role He offers to play.
The book is divided into three sections: Imitation, Identification, and Intimacy.

I loved this book. I did. I just loved it. I thought it was packed with insight and truth.

*Snyder writes, "No one accepts Jesus. We have not been invited to do so. We don't have that power, and we don't play that role. I know some could say this is just semantics, but the words we use communicate the thoughts we think. "Accepting Jesus" communicates clearly that at some point in time, He was allowed to enter into your world. He was added to your schedule. He was put on your calendar… Jesus has never asked anyone to accept Him, nor will He ever do so… Jesus is not in need of being accepted. But you are. And so am I. Thank God, literally, that the acceptance we need is available, and it begins and ends with an invitation."

**I love how Snyder asks readers FIVE questions to determine if they could be worshipping a counterfeit Jesus. This section was GREAT. One of the five questions is "Is your Jesus content to leave you the way you are?"

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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