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“What if Jesus Was Serious?” by Skye Jethani Review

I loved this devotional.

You may not think that’s a significant statement, but if you continue reading, you’ll realize how significant that statement really is because this was one of the last books that, at first glance, I would have chosen.

You see, I struggle with reading devotionals. When I try, I immediately forget what the devotion was about. It’s not necessarily because the devotionals are bad. I often find them either superficial, overly theological, or just boring. I also struggle with reading books that do nothing but reword the exact same message every single day. I would much rather read a book, the Bible, or even a commentary. But not a devotional.

Needless to say, this book wasn’t high on my reading priority list. But it wasn’t just because it was a devotional. It was also written by someone who I had never heard of. Even more, the cover had doodling on it. Great, I thought, now someone had the bright idea to make a Jesus-version of ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid.’

From my perspective, the only thing that it had going for it at first glace was the title. What if Jesus was Serious? A Visual Guide to the Teachings of Jesus we Love to Ignore. If I had a list of only book titles to choose from, then this would have been at the top of my list. Of course, we love to ignore Jesus’ teachings, I thought. We live in a culture that wants a watered-down Christianity. We want a Savior, but not a Lord. (And there are very few people willing to step out of the mold to say that this is not how it’s meant to be.)

Even so, this book has 3 reasons why I wouldn’t pick it up. So I mentally put it in the “Maybe, if-there’s-nothing-better-to-read” category.

After not finding anything else that grasped my curiosity, I reluctantly came back to this book to look at the description. The first thing I read was, “Daily Devotions for People Who Hate Daily Devotions.” That hit the nail on the head. I’ll read it.

And I’m so glad I did.

Jethani uses the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as the foundation for the entire book. Not only is this Jesus’ longest discourse in the Bible, it also contains a lot of his hardest teachings, and teachings that the church considers hyperbole or exaggeration. Jethani walks us through the sermon verse by verse, idea by idea, and explains what it just might look like if we did take Jesus seriously. Not only what it might look like to the church, but what it might look like to the world.

Each devotional is so rich and powerful, it’s almost as if every day is an entire sermon that was been into 3 minutes or less without forfeiting any of the quality of the original message. If anyone wants to do a series on the Sermon on the Mount, this book could easily be the outline for the series. All you would need to do is expand on it.

Every day, there is an illustration included to help visualize the principle of the devotional. Even though I was originally reluctant of these drawings, I’ve found them helpful. An idea, concept, thought, etc., tends to stick with you better when you learn it multiple ways.

But this book isn’t for the feint of heart. Most devotionals that I’ve come across try to help you get through your day. They want to help you deal with your stress, help your marriage, help you become a better man or woman, help motivate or inspire you, or help you personalize your faith. This book is the complete opposite. Every day is a call-to-arms that cuts to your heart and soul. Jethani doesn’t want you to feel good about yourself—he wants you to be transformed by the words of Christ.

I definitely rate this book a 5 out of 5. This is the single best devotional book that I’ve ever put into my hands. Western culture needs more books like these. Christianity needs more authors like Jethani.

Jesus intended to be taken seriously. He expects His followers to take him seriously. The world needs Christians to take Him seriously. So why do we teach that the New Testament is nothing more than the “Diary of a Wimpy Jesus”?

I’ve never heard about the author before this. But this book has quickly made him one of my favorites. I’ve since subscribed to his podcast (The Holy Post, which he cohosts with Phil Vischer) and will continue to look out for anything of his that I can get my hands on. I only pray that his other books are this good.

Thank you, Skye Jethani, for writing this. Thank you, Moody Publishers, for printing this. This book is transforming my walk with the Lord, one day at a time.

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