Jesus > Religion

I don’t remember exactly where or how I first came across it, but it must have been within the first 48 hours of it going viral and I do remember my first reaction after watching Jefferson Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” video.

And that reaction? Well. Honestly, it was mixed.

But before I tell you more, if you haven’t already seen it, you should watch it for yourself:

{Side note: for those reading from a feed reader or via email, you may need to click over to the actual post to view the video.}

I liked a lot of what this guy was saying. I liked the medium he was using. I liked the art he was making. I liked the audience he was reaching. But I didn’t like exactly how he chose some of his wording.

Mostly because I thought he had the potential to spread a really incredible and truth-filled message (um, straight up Gospel!) to a generation that desperately needed to hear it. But I was afraid he would be just another voice coming across as negative and critical of The Church. And that just wasn’t okay.

Even at the time, though, I didn’t necessarily think the heart behind the words was that of a critic, I was just afraid that’s how it would come across, how it would resonate with a generation already prepped for attack. But as he was immediately thrown into a larger spotlight than he (by his own admission) ever expected from one video, and as he handled it with humility and grace well beyond what I would have expected from someone his age, it became pretty clear pretty fast that he had a lot more to say about the truth of the Gospel and walking with Jesus.

And that is where this book comes in. In Jesus > Religion: Why He is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough, Jefferson Bethke gives context to the poem as he tells much of his own story … parts of his past and his journey beyond the shame-inducing rules of religion into a freeing relationship with Jesus.

My story is very different from Jefferson’s. Our backgrounds, our childhoods, our growing-up locations and cultures, our church experiences, and our faith journeys really couldn’t be more different.

And from that perspective, there is much of Jefferson’s story that I just can’t relate to very well. But because of that, he can also speak to a completely different audience than I could ever hope to reach – a young audience who is searching and skeptical and absolutely needs someone who gets them in a way that Jefferson most certainly does – and I love that! This is what being a part of the body of Christ is all about. Because even though we’re speaking to different audiences with different interests and we’re using different language and experiences to do it, at its core, our message is really very much the same: it’s all about Jesus Christ. Who He is and what He’s done.

Through this book – and from what I can tell, through his life – Jefferson starts a conversation with a new generation in a new way of an eternal truth that is not only relevant, but essential. He unashamedly points to Jesus who satisfies our every longing. He passionately talks about radical Grace as someone who has experienced it first hand and knows of its amazing power. And he unapologetically encourages getting past merely following the rules and traditions of religion to actually know the person of Jesus Christ.

To know Him. To follow Him. To trust Him. To live for Him.

To experience the pure freedom and joy in walking out the Gospel.

“That is the scandal of grace. I fully believe that as a Christian you can take advantage of grace, but when you’ve truly tasted it, you never will. When you’ve experienced the joy and life of Christ in you, then nothing is as satisfying anymore.” – Jefferson Bethke

No matter how differently we spread that message to our respective audiences, that is a message I will always stand behind!

If there’s a young person in your life struggling to figure out what living out the Gospel in their everyday is really all about, this book would be a pretty great place for them to start. You can find the book and more info here.

And it would be hard to beat Jefferson’s recommended reading list at the end!

—–

*note: I received a free copy of Jesus > Religion in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are mine.*

Advertisements

One thought on “Jesus > Religion

Comments are closed.