Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge

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

Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things.

In BEAUTIFUL OUTLAW, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He'd say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass.

In the author's winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity.

Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers' worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus.

As part of this book tour, each participant was assigned a chapter to provide reactions. My chapter was 11; Trueness and my reaction is indignation at Sarah, the publicist. I'm pretty sure she's spying on me. Maybe I simply needed a prod in the right direction.

This chapter focuses on how Jesus remains faithful and true. His one objective is to glorify his Heavenly Father. That's it. Part of that, of course, is to bring to pass the immortality of mankind which would include the atonement, his crucifixion and Resurrection. What Eldredge points out is that Christ never deviates from his goal, no matter what the pressure. Who are you? I Am.

I Am, as far as I have learned, is a derivative of Jehovah. On a much simpler plane, Jesus is stating he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He will not fold under pressure.  His motive remains pure and steadfast. He always keeps the goal in mind.

Eldredge gives a couple of examples of a wolf in sheep's clothing. One example was of a Christian speaker who spent an inordinate amount of time telling a story that stirred emotions within the listener but also exalted himself. It was clear that this speaker's motive was to look good and not proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

My personal thoughts on this chapter bring me to the way I attend church. Every week I put on a clean skirt, high heels (never pantyhose. Gah!), paste on a smile and sit in the pews with my family. I worry endlessly about how my children are behaving in public during Primary and Sunday School. I worry about how I will be perceived when I make a comment at any moment on Sunday at church. I concentrate far more on man's perceptions than my own spiritual development. And, yeah, it does impede my spiritual development. 

What if I went to church with a pure heart that focused solely on understanding the Gospel and Jesus Christ? What if I rejoiced that my children actually sit with their crazy mother in the chapel and that they go to their classes and learn something even if they (one in particular) pees his pants because Tyler made him laugh too hard. Or if I am not afraid to ask a stupid question, maybe somebody else needed it clarified as well but at least I now understand a concept more clearly.


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