He loved me in my mess; he was not waiting until I cleaned myself up. That truth changed my life, and I’m convinced it can change yours.
– Jesus > Religion
I have loved the message that Jefferson Bethke shares with the world since his viral video of his spoken word poem, Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus. I have been eager to get my hands on a copy of his book since I have seen him promoting it through Twitter and Instagram. I knew that his book would have a raw an authentic view of Jesus and what being a Christian really means.
When I used to think about God, I used to think about this authoritarian above my head who was watching my every move and each time I messed up that was another file in the cabinet of wrongs. Then, as I got older, I saw this version of DIY Christianity that just blew my mind and made me want to walk away from faith all together. People inviting me to come to worship concerts with them but then turned around and invited me to parties on the weekends. It was contradicting and annoying.
Where was the happy medium?
I know you and I both are forgiven because of one man’s spilt blood, but where in the world were people getting their influence from? And when did worshiping Jesus become worshiping religion? It wasn’t until I started listening to what Bethke had to say before I realized there was a difference.
If you are intrigued by the Christian faith and wondering what an authentic Christian looks like, I encourage you to read this book. I encourage you to open the pages and be open to the idea that we don’t think we are all that and a bag of chips, we think God is. Christianity has been twisted to mean all sorts of different things. It is confusing! There are so many versions of faith in the world of course it is hard to know what to believe in.
Most of the time we’re persecuted not because we love Jesus, but because we’re prideful, arrogant jerks who don’t love the real Jesus. We’re often judgmental, hypocritical, and legalistic while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic, and loving.
-Jesus > Religion
I love Jesus, but I don’t hate anyone for not loving Him. That’s not my place. As a Christian we can get ourselves in trouble. I find myself easily angered when I see people saying “We love and accept everyone” and that is hardly the case. Bethke is authentic when talking about his college experience and how he would rather be in a secular environment over a hypocritical Christian environment. Jesus is real, He’s no joke. If you say you are following Him, I think He expects us to take Him seriously. By that I don’t necessarily mean by obeying every law and fulfilling Christian obligation. I mean that we take Jesus and his message seriously.
That includes loving and accepting people for who they are, not who you want them to be, or who you think they should be.
Let me just remind you, a disoriented opinion does not mean an irrelevant God. Sugar coated Bible stories get us in trouble for not being real. We get in trouble for taking things out of context, turning them into something they don’t really mean. When we lose transparency and honesty we are deceiving ourselves and others. When we pick and choose what versions of Jesus to share there is confusion, pain, legalism, and hatred for preaching contradicting messages and thinking we are better than others when in reality we are all at the same level.
We are all in need of a Savior.
Today I opened my Bible to the book of Romans. This book is outpouring of grace. And if you think God is selective and picks favorites just hear me out…
The book is written by the apostle Paul. He speaks of Abraham and describes how it was his faith that made him righteous, not his deeds (4:1-3). Paul goes on to state:
So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s.
What!? Wait…keep going…
Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raise Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
Are you kidding me? My mind is honestly blown by that. That seems to be part of the message that is missing, the part that people forget to say, how simple that first step is. It’s just faith. Then freedom flows from that. We like to focus on what we believe are peoples faults and failures, what has become a list of wrong doings, assuring them they won’t make it into heaven or they aren’t a true Christian if they don’t do numbers 1-10 perfectly.
Bethke faces that falsely preached message in his new book. He is aiming to show the gap of religion and Jesus and where there is a difference. He wants to show you who Jesus really is. That isn’t telling you that you have to fulfill a certain checklist to be made right with God. It’s believing that He is there and He is for you. It’s as simple as that.
Bethke is sharing, what I believe, is the real Jesus with you and what believing really means. What following Him really means. I am only a couple chapters into his book but I guarantee that it will inspire more of my writing. I was going to wait to post this until I could evaluate the book as a whole, but it is already too good.
Go get yourself a copy!
Thank you to Jefferson Bethke for sharing a real and relevant perspective with the world and being authentic with your faith.