First of all, I want to give a BIG thank you to Jefferson Bethke and Nelson Books for the opportunity to review “Jesus > Religion” book even before it is released. It was such an honor! I think Jeff did an amazing job in letting God use him to deliver such a hopeful message to the world. Without further a due, here is my review on Jeff’s book “Jesus > Religion”. Oops sorry, have to hold you back for a little while. But trust me, this will worth every second of your time. If you haven’t already, go ahead and watch this video below. If you have, watch it again!
Wow. Such an eye-opener, right? Love the part when Jeff differentiates between religion and Jesus. I watched this video around 1 year ago, and I was completely blown away by the fact that God and religion are in two differentspectrums. Many times, we think that to be a follower of Jesus is all about rules, don’ts, and commandments. But this book will completely change your perspective. If you’re like me, you’ll love this book. The book expands on the ideas pointed out in this video. The book brings you to a deeper level of understanding of who God is, how His unfailing love leads to freedom, and what He has done. This book is a blessing to me as a reader. And I am pretty sure it will be a blessing to you too.
What I love about this book is that Jeff is so real with himself. He is not hesitant to share about his failures or weaknesses, and he lets us learn from them. However, at the same time, he always points back to Jesus. He keeps Jesus the center of whatever he is writing about. I think it is important for us to learn from people’s mistakes and brokenness, but ultimately, we should open our eyes to see how God is working in their brokenness – to see how God turns the dust to the beautiful. Look, Jeff is being so vulnerable here in this book when he talks about how his mom is gay, or when he talks about how he slept with different girls during his college life. When he wrote this book, he didn’t know how people would respond to it. But he wrote it anyway. Why? I guess he is trying to show how much of a sinner he was, but God forgive him anyway. Daily. God transforms his life. God touches his heart. God uses him as an instrument in this broken world. I see it as an encouragement for all of us because I am reminded that God can use anyone, if we are willing to admit that we are in need of a Savior, a Lord, a Master, a Friend, and a Leader. Note that it is God who transforms him, and not religion. This book, it’s about Jesus.
I know, I know. It’s not a book review until I quote from this book. I would love to quote every sentence of this book because every sentence is worth quoting. But I shouldn’t do that, should I? :p But, anyway, my favorite chapter in this book is Chapter 8: Religion says, “God will love you if…” / Jesus says, “God so loved…” and this is one of my favorite quotes:
“When Jesus went to the cross, he saw all I’ll ever be, all I’ll ever do, and all I’ll ever want outside of him; but he joyfully came and got me. He looked down and said, “I want that one.””
(Chapter 8, p. 134)
Love this quote. It rebukes me in every way. It reminds me of how victorious God’s grace is. It shows me how grace always wins, how grace rises above all other thing in this world, i.e. sins, bondage, etc. It is heartbreaking to see that many times, people think that following Jesus is like following a bunch of rules and commandments. That it is about how we are not allowed to drink, swear, etc. That it is about working for our salvation. Don’t get me wrong; it’s true that we have to bear fruit once God transforms our life. However, following Jesus is more than that. God’s love is WAAAAAYYY beyond the religion, the laws, the commandments, etc. God’s love is unconditional. God loves even when we sin, even when we rejected him, even when we fall a hundred times, even when we are broken. It is very important to realize that we are not good enough. We will never be. But God’s grace is so amazing that He justifies the ungodly, like you and me. If you follow me on Instagram (@kimberlysubi), I posted a sneak peek of this book one week ago. I posted a book screenshot where Jeff talks about how it is such a good news that we will never be good enough for God. (Picture: http://instagram.com/p/e4FMJ1LnG3/ )
About grace. Many times we are thinking too much about what we have done and how we have broken all the laws. We are thinking too much that we kept on telling ourselves that we are never good enough, that we are unqualified and that we are undeserving of God’s forgiveness and love. In fact, God’s grace keeps on pursuing us even when we are far. Even when we have completely rejected Him. Jesus saw that we were going to sin even before He went to the cross, and He still went. He loves us. As sinners. As the ungodly ones. As the unrighteous ones. As the filthy ones. As the impure ones. As the wicked ones. Grace is simply beautiful. // “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Romans 5:20
Yes, I think Jeff puts it really well. So hopeful, so precious, and so comforting. Isn’t it great? We can simply be who we are, the children of God. Nope. Don’t even have to try. We just are. Jeff closes the book with a conclusion. He said, “He just wants us to surrender, and when we do, he comes and gets us. The waves might be crashing overhead, but in that moment, when it looks like we might die, his grace scoops us up and brings us life. And because we finally give up, we know it was him who did all the saving.”
Guys, I highly encourage you to just read the book. Seriously. I was so blessed when I was reading the book. It changes the way I see grace and how it plays a HUGE role in my life. It changes my perspective on being ‘good enough’ because I will never be good enough for God. It makes me realize that is the point, that I am not good enough. But God is greater than all of our weaknesses and brokenness. All these things that I experience, I want you to experience it too. Buy the book, or borrow the book from a friend. Read it, open your eyes and your heart to what God is saying. This book will make you stop or close the book from time to time, and think of how it relates to your personal life and see how God is working in you. You will not walk away from these provocative pages unchanged by God’s truth.
If you want to uncover the true meaning of freedom, get the book.
If you want to picture what an authentic relationship with Jesus looks like, get the book.
If you are just starting to get to know Jesus, get the book.
If you want to strengthen your faith, get the book.
If you want to know more about Jesus and religion, get the book.
If you want to be blown away by God’s unfailing grace, get the book.
If you need an encouragement, get the book.
This book. It’s about Jesus.
Get your copy of the book here (YES, it is finally out!) I highly recommend it. And oh, this book comes with discussion questions at the end of every chapter. I think it is really good because it encourages us to think and relate the truth to our own lives. Good stuff for your small group. One other thing that I like is the Bible verses reference at the end of the book. Man, you should see how often Jeff relates back to the Bible. Gotta love it.
So, this is my book review on Jefferson’s Bethke book: Jesus > Religion. Thank you for reading this, and I hope you enjoy it. If you have any questions, criticisms, or comments, please feel free to leave them below! If you ended up buying the book, let me know! And let me know how your journey goes! I would love to hear back from all of you guys 😉
Once again, THANK YOU.
P.S. I am thinking whether or not I should make a BOOK GIVEAWAY contest. I still have no idea how it will go, but we’ll see. If you would like me to do a giveaway contest, let me know! Tweet me @kimberlysubi, or simply leave a comment below! 😉
P.S. (again :p) Follow me on twitter and instagram for more updates (@kimberlysubi)