Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus

“He is the playfulness of creation, scandal and utter goodness, the generosity of the ocean and the ferocity of a thunderstorm; he is cunning as a snake and gentle as a whisper; the gladness of sunshine and the humility of a thirty-mile walk by foot on a dirt road.”  - John Eldredge, Beautiful Outlaw

I am undone.

Sometimes a book comes along that just undoes you.  Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge is such a book.

Let me start by saying that Eldredge's books almost always do this to me.  The revelation that God gives this man takes religious ideas you didn't even even know you had and turns them inside out. He doesn't just say what every other Christian author is currently saying.  God has given this man - and his wife - great insight into the heart.  Every time I read one of his books, I come away with an entirely new and refreshed idea of who God is.  It's challenging and wonderful all at the same time.

Beautiful Outlaw is a book about Jesus.  Not the Jesus of your Sunday School lessons, but the real live, flesh-and-blood Jesus of the Gospels.  The one that cries.  The one that gets mad.  The guy that hangs with his buddies.  The guy that willingly made himself fully man so he could pay for your sins and at the same time come to you and say "yeah, I know how you feel, I felt that too."  The cunning, loving, crafty, hilarious, playful, fierce Jesus Christ who turned the world upside down with his actions and words.  The Jesus we all long to know and yet so few actually experience.

I have grown up in the church all my life.  I have heard about Jesus from before I was born.  It's a double-edged sword.  Yes, I have the privilege of knowing Him for as long as I can remember.  But familiarity can breed apathy, and without realizing it, I had built myself a very comfortable, religious picture of Jesus, put Him in my pocket, and gone about my life.  This book seeks to undo that paradigm and bring me face to face with Jesus Himself, the real man, the man that was paradoxically fully man and fully God, all at once.  The one and only person in history who had the right to die for the sins of others - and who chose to do so. 

I can't recommend this book enough.  I could quote it, go into detail, try to explain myself, but I think the best thing is to just ask a question: how are you with Jesus?  Really?  Are you bored?  Is He this kinda bland Sunday School character that went around healing people and telling everyone to be nice to each other?  Or are you ready for more?  Are you ready to meet the Jesus that is calling your name right now, longing to relate with you in a person, human way, more than you have ever experienced before?  Do you recognize a longing for something more?  Does the phrase "there must be more than this" make absolute, perfect sense to you?

Then, please, read this book.  God so longs to reach in and pull you closer.  Jesus is calling out to you right now and wants an intimacy with you beyond what you can imagine.  Allow God to break the boxes you put Him in so that you can experience greater thing.  Jesus is so much more than you know. 

I know He was - and is - so much more than I know!

Rating: 7 out of 5 stars
What's up next: Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood by Emily Leider
Top Five TBR:
1. The Confessions of Catherine Medici by C.W. Gortner 
2. To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick
3. Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert
4. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
5. Erasing Hell by Francis Chan