First sentence: The story of Jesus includes all kinds of characters—a second cousin who recognized him, parents who loved him, disciples who misunderstood him, fastidious law-keepers who tried to trap him, a friend who betrayed him, priests who plotted against him, and followers who died for him. While some embraced him, others hated him. While some wanted to serve him, others wanted to use him. Some who claimed to be saints proved to be scoundrels. And, some who began as scoundrels were transformed into saints.
Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus is a lovely read. Each chapter chooses one (or two, possibly three) characters to focus on. Guthrie writes in the introduction, "I hope to add to, deepen, refine, or perhaps correct your grasp of the various people I feature in the following chapters. I hope to show them to you from an angle you may not have seen before or at least to show them through a more intense lens than you may have previously examined them." She continues, "But mostly, I want to help you to see Jesus more clearly through delving into these stories and these people. Over and over again, we’ll see how Jesus interacted with people—people with hopes, dreams, hurts, and disappointments. We’ll hear what Jesus said to those who welcomed him and wanted him, as well as to those who rejected him and ridiculed him. We’ll also get a sense of what Jesus wants from us and what he offers to us."
This isn't a book to be read on its own. She encourages you--as do I--to read this one alongside the Bible itself. B
But the book also uses people to explore topics and themes. The chapter on hypocrisy was great.
If you’ve ever said, “I’ll pray for you,” and didn’t actually pray, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever said, “I forgive you,” but continued telling others how you’d been wronged, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever said, “Amen,” to someone’s prayer even though you’d actually been making a mental grocery list during the prayer, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If your lips have uttered the words, “Your kingdom come, your will be done,” with no intension of submitting to God in a particular area of your life, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you regularly watch explicit programs that you’d never watch with church friends lest they think you are not as holy as you want to appear, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If your words to your family on the way to church are often harsh or unkind, but then friendly to everyone once at church, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever been glad to be observed donating money to your church, a mission project, or a “Go Fund Me” page for a particular cause, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you have judged others for their judgmental attitudes and actions, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever hoped people would think that you’re reading the Bible on your phone during church when in reality you were scrolling through social media, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever used phrases like “the Lord led us” or “God told me” simply to make a decision sound more spiritual, you might be a religious hypocrite.
If you’ve ever posted something on social media hoping that viewers will think you are more virtuous, more compassionate, more “woke, ” more “with-it,” than you really are, you might be a religious hypocrite.
I would definitely recommend this one. I think it could even be a profitable book to reread every few years.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible