If you were to put the books of John Piper, N.T. Wright, and Mark Driscoll in a blender, what would you get? Jared C. Wilson’s new book, Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel Good Savior (Kregel, 2009). Jared has combined the best qualities from each of these pastors and given us a solid book on Jesus . . . First, Jared brings together the passion of John Piper, the historical sensibilities of N.T. Wright and the irreverent humor of Mark Driscoll (without the crudeness). Early on in the book, it becomes clear that Jared reads widely and is willing to glean insights from the different streams of Christianity, and yet maintain a firm grasp on the gospel and the core doctrines of the faith.
The highlight of the book is Jared’s excellent overview of the life of Christ, which is both easy to understand, yet nuanced enough to take into account the complexity of modern historical research. It really brings the gospels to life, and gives fresh insight into those books, without having to read the academically dense work of N.T. Wright.
He is very charitable, while presenting sound, biblical portraits of Jesus. I appreciate how he reasons deeply from the Scripture and does not fill each chapter with personal stories or extra-biblical illustrations. It’s a darn good book, in other words.
Jared Wilson's Your Jesus Is Too Safe delivers exactly the message the American church desperately needs to hear. We need more than the Jesus we've settled for, more than the comfortable Jesus who pats us on the back and tells us we're good people. We need the Jesus Jared writes so passionately about to step into our messy, chaotic lives and show us that he is the God who saves, the God who redeems, the God who reigns.
If you're looking for a book on Jesus that reads like an entry-level Bible college textbook, Your Jesus is Too Safe is not the one. If you've read anything by Mark Driscoll, you'll find that Jared's and Mark's senses of humor are very comparable. The book kept me laughing, or at least chuckling, through major segments. For instance, in the chapter entitled "Jesus the Promise" he offers a tongue-in-cheek speculation when he describes the Essenes as a wilderness sect that "lived on psychedelic mushrooms and listened to lots of Ravi Shankar" (p.19). Hilarious!
It's this combination of serious, Biblical discussion of Jesus flavored with a lighthearted humor that makes Your Jesus is Too Safe unique.
Wilson offers a wonderful balance of focusing on Christ and challenging the reader with the radical implications of following Christ. One example of this kind of balance is found in his chapter on ‘Jesus the Sacrifice’ where he dives into the depths of Christ’s death and atonement. Wilson only spends a few short paragraphs on the implications but they are powerful. For many, when we think about sacrifice and service we end up proclaiming “Look what I am doing for Jesus;” whereas the real power comes when we proclaim to the watching world what Jesus has done for us . . .
I found myself moved to worship multiple times while reading this book. I also found myself moved to care for others more deeply. I think those are the two qualities that make for a great book.
Wilson’s writing is easy to read, inviting and humorous (especially in his footnotes). Readers who do not have a background in biblical studies will follow the author’s style with ease and without feeling judged. Most importantly, like a good teacher Wilson leaves his readers wanting more- in this case, more of the real Jesus.
diving into the book i found the greatest gift for where i am today in spiritual formation & teaching. jared really goes through and names, and claims, many of the personifications of Christ that we know & feel about this man, but we have not the reflection or words to say often enough. it was also a great gift to look over the whole book and say, 'here is why Christ is so complex' in that he has so many dimensions to his being. in my own self, and my observations of others, many times we cannot sufficiently express what we feel in emotionally or spiritually. whatever the reason, hyper technology, over programmed life, lack of vocabulary, etc. its a gift when we can 'name' for ourselves (or have help from others) in expressing the richness that is bound within us. so, in my humble opinion, jared has done a great gift in reflecting upon the many depths of a Christ many of us know.
The book may make the most sense to Christians, but I won’t hesitate to hand it to non-Christians. If we silly believers are often stumbling blocks to reflecting the true Savior, perhaps this raw take from the Scriptures can illuminate what we darken, and clarify what we make fuzzy. Whether you think you know about Jesus, or you know very little, pick up this book and learn the old truth through a new encounter. Plus, at about ten bucks, it’s a sweet deal. Skip three coffees over the next couple of weeks and read this book to energize your day. A few of the chapters (1, 4, 8 esp.) are worth the price alone.
There is only one reason I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I’m not even sure I shouldn’t have said 5. Whenever I teach or preach it could probably be guaranteed that I will use some humor which means I believe it’s useful in communicating and relating with others. I know that many times humor is determined by personal taste and I may find that I’m in a very small minority for this part of the review. As I read through “Your Jesus is Too Safe” I found myself caught off guard by how much Jared used humor in his book. I’ve been wondering if my expectations of the book were wrong. In reading Jared’s blog posts in the past, it seemed to me that he was pretty serious in his presentation of the Gospel, whether written or spoken. In reading this book there were times when I thought the humor was too much or distracting. When presenting scripture passages or stories, I think that humor diminishes or softens the truth when it doesn’t need to be or shouldn’t be . . .
I did rate it 4 out of 5 because the amount of humor is a personal view and because there is so much depth and quality material in this book that I’ve already recommended it to others and will continue to do so.