I’ve been paying a lot of attention to Jefferson Bethke the last year or so. Having a few years on his 23, I’m blown away by the man of God he is and by what he’s already accomplished at his young age. He is cranking out a lot of great content. He’s relevant. He knows how to connect with his culture and generation. He’s artistic. He does what he does well: very well. He’s got a lot of insight. Sometimes people like this end up turning you off and leaving you bummed out by just how good they seem. How can you be so courageous?How can you read so many books? How can you be influencing so many people?
Enter Jesus > Religion. You soon realize Jeff’s entire life isn’t filled with sainthood. Throughout the book Jeff shares his story. It’s honest, raw, and at times very dark. And yet it’s a beacon brightly blazing on Jesus. As we often hear, the one thing people can’t argue is our personal testimony. What I love about this book is that Jeff has been through the motions of trying to be good, of trying to find fulfilment in sin, and ultimately being captured by grace. It might be easy to roll your eyes at a cute, rich pastor’s kid raving about how great God is – but Jeff’s story is hard to argue with. It’s not pretty, but it’s glorious.
I’m not going to go over every chapter, since you should read the book yourself. The title tips you off on the angle of the book. Here are a few things that stuck out to me that I wanted to mention about this book.
#1 The book addresses the topic of sin head-on
In Jeff’s words:
“God doesn’t hide sin. In fact he put it on display two thousand years ago in a splintered T-shaped piece of wood. Jesus came down to earth, live the perfect life we never could have, and died the death we should have. And every drop of blood that poured from him was another drop of love falling on us.”
“He took your shame. He took your sin. He took your filth so that God could be both just and justifier of those who put their trust in Jesus. He doesn’t just let you off the hook; he put Jesus on the hook for you. Stop working to do something Jesus has already done. It is finished. If you trust him, your faith is counted as righteousness.”
#2 Jesus deserves more glory than we’re inclined to think
“God should get a lot more glory for things than we give him. If we only give God glory for explicitly Christian things, we are thieves. He wants all the glory. When we bite into food, we are to let him know how awesome he is for making food. When we listen to great music, we are to do the same. When we don’t we are stealing. There is glory God deserves that he is not being given.”
#3 We can be who God created us to be.
I love that God made us different, to do different things, to be different parts of the body. But that’s hard to accept sometimes, so I’m glad for the reminder Jeff gives us. In my own words, when Jeff became a Christian he quit the baseball time to study the Bible. He felt he needed to go to seminary – become a pastor or a theologian, because that’s what great Christians did, so he thought. Looking back, he realizes that he wouldn’t have enjoyed or been very good at that. Now, instead of studying how to parse Greek verbs he’s making a huge impact doing what God created him to do, making amazing Youtube videos that are reaching millions of people. How cool is that?
#4 Christians should be great at creating
He hammers on music, but the spectrum is even bigger than what we think of as art. While we’re not all overly ‘artistic’, we shouldn’t always be lagging 10 years behind our culture. As he says:
“The problem with trying to be relevant is it makes us copy what culture is already doing. To be relevant, you have to copy what is cool. So we put our mouths on the tailpipe of secular culture in hopes we can recycle some of it and use it for ourselves.”
Jeff’s story is a testament to the fact that God can use you and your gifts for his glory – whatever they are. He’s using social media well. He’s helping make Jesus famous. He’s a modern day missionary.
#5 Jesus Rules.
Really, there’s nothing better.
In conclusion: this is a great, easy read. Instead of trying to amaze us with the knowledge he’s accumulated from a lot of study, or how he managed to get millions of Youtube views, he brings us to Jesus – the real Jesus. This is a book of great news for sinners and saints alike. Love it.
I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher.
5/5 Paper Movement Stars