Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus > Religion {by Jefferson Bethke}

Title: Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough
Author: Jefferson Bethke
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace the promise of being truly known and deeply loved.
Jefferson Bethke burst into the cultural conversation in 2012 with a passionate, provocative poem titled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." The 4-minute video literally became an overnight sensation, with 7 million YouTube views in its first 48 hours (and 23+ million in a year). The message blew up on social-media, triggering an avalanche of responses running the gamut from encouraged to enraged.
In "Jesus > Religion," Bethke unpacks similar contrasts that he drew in the poem--highlighting the difference between teeth gritting and grace, law and love, performance and peace, despair and hope. With refreshing candor he delves into the motivation behind his message, beginning with the unvarnished tale of his own plunge from the pinnacle of a works-based, fake-smile existence that sapped his strength and led him down a path of destructive behavior.Bethke is quick to acknowledge that he's not a pastor or theologian, but simply a regular, twenty-something who cried out for a life greater than the one for which he had settled. Along his journey, Bethke discovered the "real" Jesus, who beckoned him beyond the props of false religion.

First off, if you haven't seen Bethke's "Why I hate Religion, but Love Jesus" video, you need to.

I know this isn't the type of thing I usually review. In fact, it isn't even the type of thing that I read. However, I was hooked. I couldn't stop reading. At least, when I had to, I didn't want to. 

Bethke talks about subjects that are tricky, maybe even controversial. But he does so in a way that can relate to teens and adults, but also in a way that is humorous. He isn't poking fun at anything, but he keeps you entertained so that you continue reading.

Bethke basically walks us through his walk with faith and God, expanding and using those issues to further his points. Because of that, this book had many little anecdotes, some hard and embarrassing for him to share, I'm sure. He does so with an open vulnerability, but also with his characteristic humor. Such as:
Hey, nothing wrong with books

Bethke digs deep into the Bible, supporting what he says with Scriptural evidence. He doesn't claim to be a pastor or theologian, and he's not ashamed to admit when he doesn't know something.

Drawing from personal experiences, especially as a teenager, Bethke tries to make this understandable for young adults and teens. He shows them that he relates to them, he understands them, that he went to the same thing. He encourages and uplifts, by just being someone who's there instead of someone who has all the answers.
After all, I'm pretty sure Jefferson Bethke is the only one who can get away with comparing the Bible to Jersey Shore. That's right. Jersey Shore.

Bethke also brings up points that are tough, but he doesn't do so in a self-righteous way, as someone who knows all the answers. Instead, as someone who is just asking the questions, like the readers. 
And can I just say, I am so glad someone finally brought up this point, because I have been wondering myself for a while now.
Some of the things Bethke says might be controversial (maybe to the older generation) but I feel like they need to be said, and I'm glad he did. Jesus > Religion is such an eye-opener. It will really make you think in a way you hadn't before, and quite honestly, in a way you may not want to. 

I'm not sure what else that I could say that could adequately explain how I feel about this book. Like I said, I was hooked, and I hate reading this kind of stuff. I feel that every Christian should read this book, no matter where you are in your walk of faith. If you've ever had doubts or questions, this is the book to start with. If you're not a Christian, because you've been turned off by other Christians you've met, first off: I'm sorry. Second, you should read this book. 

And so I'll leave you with this.

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Page citations will be added after I get my hands on a physical copy. Sorry about that!
This review can also be found on   Rachel Marie's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

Jefferson Bethke:

Website | Jesus > Religion Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Goodreads

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