Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus by John Eldredge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beautiful Outlaw was a wonderful book and one I highly recommend.
As a Christian, I find that I often lose sight of who Jesus really is. So much of what we see in our world today both secular and religious serves to put more distance between Christians and the One who gave His life for us. This book is John Eldredge’s attempt to bring us back to a personal, intimate (close) relationship with Christ himself. And he does a great job by reminding us of who Jesus really was and is. It just makes it easier to love someone you know, doesn’t it?
The book is really genius in that it is set up to dispel the misconceptions that we let creep into our knowledge of Jesus. Even in many (MANY!) churches, the religious attitude just creates distance because they portray Jesus as this untouchable. Perfection personified. Jesus WAS perfect, but His whole purpose of coming here was (and is!) to get close to us. To draw us to Him. While here, He was fully human and as such he had a personality! He was playful, cunning, fierce, humble and of course loving. He got mad at pious religious attitudes. In fact, that was the stuff that made Him maddest.
Beautiful Outlaw is a great exhibition of His personality through study of his words and actions in the scriptures.
This is a fairly short book, and it’s broken int o17 short-ish chapters. Each chapter is focused on one aspect of Christ’s character and how that affects us in our relationship with Him. How it draws us closer to him. Solidifies our relationship.
So much of society’s “understanding” of Christ and Christianity is just so wrong. It’s easy to see how the world looks at Christendom, just watch the news. Search for just about anything in Google and you’ll find references. And let’s face it, there is a fiercely negative attitude towards Christianity in society. Much, if not all, of that is really the fault of Christians. So many of “us” are so attached to the “religious structure” that we are effectively pharisees. More concerned about the appearance, but rotten to the core. How offensive is that to non-Christians? How offensive should that be to YOU? If more people just lost the “religion” and got down to the “relationship” with Christ, it would be so hard to have a hateful attitude towards Christ and all of us who are filled with His Spirit.
In the final chapters, Eldredge discuses the personal relationship we have with Christ and gives some useful guidelines to see where that relationship truly exists. It essentially comes down to the statement “You will know them by their fruit.” There are good examples of how to use this which should help us not only improve our discernment about others around us, but also look into our own motivation. Are we doing it because we feel like we need to out of some religious structure, or are we doing it because of our true heart for Christ?
I’ll be honest. There are a lot of Christians who may be offended by this book if they read it. Those are probably the people who are more tied to religion and ritual than an actual relationship with Christ. On the other hand, there are probably people who are not Christians who may read this book and be blown away by how wrong their understanding of Christ was. And how desirable He really is if you just let the rest go and start that relationship. That probably (sadly) goes for Christians, too.
Finally, I didn’t actually read this book… I listened to the audio book through Audible. It is unabridged and is narrated by John Eldredge himself. Eldredge does a GREAT job narrating (he’s been narrating his own audiobooks for years) and in the past, I’ve actually preferred the audio versions to the paperbook versions slightly. Just because his intonations make every joke and playful comment perfectly clear. I “get” a lot of that in reading the books, too, but maybe that’s true for me because I have listened to the audiobook version of other books in the past.
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