Tuesday, February 4, 2020

14. What If Jesus Was Serious?

What if Jesus Was Serious? A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus We Love To Ignore. Skye Jethani. 2020. [June] Moody Publishers. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; Christian living; theology; sermon on the mount]

First sentence: FOLLOWING JESUS HAS never been easy, but some believe it’s becoming even more difficult as Western cultures become increasingly post-Christian.

True or false: We live in a culture where we often pick and choose what texts to take seriously from the Bible.
True or false: We live in a culture where we often pick and choose which teachings of Christ himself to take seriously.
True or false: Every culture since Jesus' ministry has struggled with this--what to make of Jesus' teachings, his life, his work, his death and resurrection.

I can't answer the third question objectively. But the first two, sadly, are definitely true--in my opinion.

The premise of Skye Jethani's book, What If Jesus Was Serious, is simple: WHAT WOULD THE CHRISTIAN LIFE BE LIKE IF PEOPLE TOOK JESUS' SERMON ON THE MOUNT SERIOUSLY. If you don't find that a scary thought, perhaps you haven't read the Sermon on the Mount lately.

The book consists of nine parts:

  • Who is Really Blessed? 
  • Christians and Culture
  • Inside Out Righteousness
  • Love In Action
  • A Prayer for Losers
  • Freedom from Fear
  • Judging, Asking, Blessing
  • Good and Bad Fruit
  • Be Smart

Each part has several chapters...each beginning with the refrain: If Jesus Was Serious...

  • Then We Will Focus More On His Good News and Less on Religious To-Dos
  • Then No One is Beyond God's Blessing
  • Then Heaven Is Already Here
  • Then We Will Make Room To Cry
  • Then We Will Trust God More and Politics Less
  • Then a Desire for Justice Should be Affirmed
  • Then We Cannot Separate Our Relationship with God From Our Relationship With Others
  • Then Our Image Isn't Everything
  • Then Peace is Costly But Worth the Price

Those were just from part one, "Who Is Really Blessed?"

The book is methodically laid out, straight-forward, concise. The author assumes that Jesus MEANT or intended his words, his teachings to be taken seriously. And likewise assumes that some of these chapters might step on a few toes and challenge readers.

Each chapter has a visual illustration that goes with it. I am not a visual learner, so these didn't particular speak to me or resonate with me. But perhaps for some readers these illustrations will be thought-provoking and give the book a little something extra.

My favorite quote:

"EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS at least two Bibles. First, there is the actual Bible—all sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments. Then there is the Bible we read. This is what some call our functional Bible and it includes the sections we regularly engage and seek to apply to our lives. This functional Bible is different for each person, but it contains some familiar gospel stories and parables, some of Paul’s letters, and a handful of Psalms. He declared that He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Fulfillment doesn’t mean to finish and throw away, but to bring to completion. In other words, Jesus identifies Himself as what the Old Testament has been pointing toward, and to understand Jesus we must see Him through the lens of the writings of the Law and the Prophets. Likewise, to understand the Law and the Prophets, we must read them through the lens of Jesus. He is the key to the whole Bible, and we need the whole Bible to engage Jesus."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: