So this was supposed to be up on Friday. But my mom is in town and Leah and I hung out with her. All day I knew there was something that I was forgetting. About an hour ago, I realized what it was. So I finished writing my review. Then I tried to publish it and wordpress deleted half of it. So I’ve had a couple of setbacks but here goes
I’m a blog nerd. Like most of the people in this generation, I spend way too much time reading blogs, writing blogs, and thinking about blogs. But if any of my time spent in the blogosphere is NOT wasted, its the time I spend reading Jared Wilson’s blog, Gospel Driven Church. If any of you are not familiar with Jared Wilson, you really should get familiar.
Jared is a pastor of Element in Nashville, TN and a writer of articles, short stories, and, now, a book. If there is anything that I can tell you about him, it is that he is passionate about individuals, churches, pastors, leaders, etc. being utterly Gospel-driven and Jesus-centered. I don’t actually know Jared, although I am friends with him on Facebook, (in case you were wondering, being friends on Facebook means little to nothing, more often nothing than little), but I can see Jared’s heart through his writing on his blog, in various articles, and in Your Jesus is Too Safe.
Your Jesus is Too Safe is a book about Jesus. You’re probably thinking, “Thanks Captain Obvious.” But I’m serious. Its a book about who Jesus is, what Jesus did, does and will do, and how the implications those things have for our lives as people who believe in and follow Jesus.
He takes twelve different aspects of who Jesus is and what Jesus does and, with each one, he reveals all the more a clear picture of who Jesus is. His own analogy is that of an art restorer who is removing layers of dirt and grime one at a time, seeing the picture more clearly with each layer. Now, I know that that can seem like he is a bit presumptious to consider himself the great art restorer who is cleaning the layers of the dirt and grime of culture and religion off of the real Jesus, but he lets Scripture do most of the work. The picture of Jesus that he gets down to is one that is refreshing, beautiful, encouraging, convicting, demanding, glorious, offensive at times, and, in case you were wondering, unsafe. But its the Jesus of Scripture.
Jared writes as someone who knows Jesus. He knows the Bible and that all of it is about Jesus, not just the Gospels. He knows the current historical and theological debates/discoveries/opinions about Jesus. He clearly knows and has experienced the love of God through the work and person of Jesus.
He writes not simply for scholars and theology nerds, but for everyone, educated and uneducated, young and old. This book should become a staple for youth pastors to give to their teenagers, because it presents a deep, deep picture of Jesus but in a way that anyone can comprehend. Scholars and others of the nerdy variety, myself included, will appreciate the fact that Jared is well-read and is up-to-date on the current historical and theological scholarship on Jesus. Teenagers will appreciate the fact that he references Homestarruner.
He does all of it without assuming that the reader knows anything at all. Well, he doesn’t assume that you are stupid, simply that you are uninformed of some of even the very basic facts of Jesus’ life. Whenever he mentions a debate or an issue that isn’t common knowledge, he offers a summary. Unlike most authors, his explanations are not cumbersome, longwinded and boring, but rather, they are interesting, and oftentimes very funny.
If anything other than Jared’s knowledge of and about Jesus is great, it would have to be his sense of humor. In all honesty, he’s hilarious. His jokes and tone bring a light-heartedness to the book. It doesn’t bring a light-heartedness to the content, however. It simply reminds us that although Jared takes Jesus very seriously, he doesn’t take himself nearly as seriously as some authors do. You’ll laugh out loud, and if you are in public, such as in the Winnipeg Airport, you’ll probably get some funny looks. If you don’t think its funny, its probably because of the severe emotional problems you suffer from.
So what’s the bottom line? This book is about Jesus. If you already know about Jesus, you’ll appreciate this book. If you need to know about Jesus, you need to read this book. And, in case you were wondering, most of the American Church needs to know about Jesus. Buy a few copies of it. I have a serious feeling that you’ll want to give one to someone else. A friend, a child, a Sunday School teacher, a non-Christian, a life-long Christian. This is a great, enlightening, challenging book.
And if you’re not convinced yet, anyone who can reference N.T. Wright, John Piper, and Strongbad all in a positive light has to be a gifted writer.