Thursday, November 10, 2011

Simply Jesus

I've started reading N. T. Wright's Simply Jesus.  I'm into the third chapter, and loving it.

You know, it's really kind of interesting how many books are being written with the avowed purpose of refocusing on Jesus, correcting a trend, in other words, toward focusing on other things and relegating Jesus Christ to the periphery.

There was Jared Wilson's book, You're Jesus is too Safe, and Frank Viola and Len Sweet's The Jesus Manifesto, and more recently Tullian Tchividjian's Jesus + Nothing = Everything.  I'm sure there have been others, but taken together they represent a distinct trend.  Almost a movement!

Speaking of books, the next in my queue is The King Jesus Gospel, by Scot McKnight.  It's been my personal project to read the NT for a deeper understanding of what is meant by that term, "the Gospel."  McKnight has been investigating that same matter, and his conclusion is that we've been so focused on one aspect of the Gospel (individual salvation) that we have done the broader picture is a distinct disservice.

Now back to the matter of re-focusing on Jesus. I think that Jesus is the good news; he embodies it. So you can't go far wrong concerning the Gospel--and you won't over-simplify it--if you begin with Jesus and keep the focus there.

So anyway, back to Simply Jesus.  Here's a clip from the introduction:
Jesus—the Jesus we might discover if we really looked, is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we had ever imagined. We have successfully managed to hide behind other questions and to avoid the huge, world-shaking challenge of Jesus’s central claim and achievement. It is we, the churches, who have been the real reductionists. We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety; the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience; Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself.
That's good stuff.  I've been struck, in my reading of the Gospels, at how absolutely strange Jesus often seems.  Sure, he's fully human and all that, but he talks like no man has ever talked.  He says things like, "How long am I to bear with this faithless generation?" Those are the words of a man who has come from elsewhere, is a stranger in this world, and is eager to get back home.  Nobody is a stranger in this world like Jesus was.

Well, he was different, this Jesus.  And I'm thankful for this movement to re-focus on the Jesus going on in the church today, and it's something I want to be a part of. It's the most exciting thing going. Either the church is about the indwelling Jesus (for real) or it is nothing more than playing the religious community game.


Erin Hope said...

wow. uh-huh.

Jeremy Myers said...

I'm reading this book right now too. It is a great book. Those other books you mentioned are also fantastic.

You are right in the trend of books appearing which seep to be corrective in our perspective about Jesus.

I worked with Frank Viola recently on a video for his new ebook "Epic Jesus." It reveals an awe-inspiring presentation of Jesus Christ. Make sure you check out both. The video is on YouTube and has a link to the eBook.