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Initial Reaction to “What if Jesus was Serious?” By Skye Jethani

When browsing through books, I initially skipped over What if Jesus was Serious? by Skye Jethani. The title interested me, but I’ve never heard of the author and its cover made it look like a book written for teenagers. I’m not against reading books that are written for teenagers and I have read some as an adult, but those books just wouldn’t be my first choice. After eliminating my other options, I came back to this one to see what it was about.

What if Jesus was Serious? It is described as a devotional for people who don’t like devotionals. This is my devotional life in a nutshell. I prefer to read a book or study the Bible, but I struggle to maintain a regular, daily, go-back-to-the-same-book-every-day-for-an-entire-year routine. Based on the description, this book was written for me.

And so far, I’m loving it. Jethani’s premise for this book is simple: Christians don’t take Jesus seriously (hence the title!). And if they don’t take Jesus seriously, the larger culture won’t either.

As I began reading this, I was reminded of the book Radical by David Platt (one of my favorite books) and the idea of “cheap grace” from Dietriech Bonhoeffer. Too often the church (particularly the westernized church) wants Jesus to be your Savior, but not your Lord. The idea that Jesus can save our souls without demanding control of our lives is preached from the pulpit week after week.

We’ve developed the belief that someone who is “blessed” is someone who God has given material wealth and business status. When you hear the words, “I’m so blessed,” do you imagine those words coming out of the mouth of a homeless person? What about a person whose life has been plagued with depression, betrayal, or loneliness? No, we imagine those words coming out of someone who has it all together. It comes out of the mouth of someone who has a nice suburban house with a picket fence and a two-car garage. Those words come out of the mouth of someone who attends church regularly, teaches Sunday school, tithes, contributes to every potluck dinner, has well-behaved children, and never has marital conflict. The list could go on, but those are the people who we imagine are blessed by God. And that is the life that pastors promise that God will give us we simply put our faith in Jesus.

Apparently this problem plagued the culture 2000 years ago too.

“At the time of Jesus, most believed the healthy, powerful, rich, respected, and educated were clearly favored by God. The logic was simple—if your life looked good, it’s because you must be good and God has blessed you for your religious devotion. [Likewise], if your life looked bad, it must be because you are bad and God has cursed you for your sinfulness.”

This is a devotional that attacks those false ideas that we’ve come up with head-on. And I think it’s a much-needed devotional that we need in American post-modern culture. I’ve read books that try to get people to take Jesus seriously, but once they’re read, they go on the shelf to collect dust. Putting this in a devotional format ensures that we read this over and over again.

I believe that this devotional is filling a void that I didn’t know existed before now.

I only pray that it continues on this path.

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