The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong Paperback – November 1, 2016
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Using copious biblical citations, Sweet focuses on Christ’s teaching and behavior that contradicted what people expected. He broke cultural and religious rules. He defied human authority and social convention.
Every chapter contains spiritual insights that are profound and practical. Using references to pop culture, history, and church fathers, Sweet offers relevant examples of ways to apply biblical principles and Jesus’ teaching to everyday living. -- CBA Christian Market
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When skimming through stories about Jesus, it can seem that somehow his life was swaddled in protective padding that kept away, at least for a while, the consequences of some of his questionable behaviors -- what Sweet calls his "bad habits". Jesus did and said things in public that were, dare I say it?, almost rude. But there hasn't been much discussion about these social trespasses (Example: His mother directs a simple statement to him at a wedding and his reply seems very curt, almost impolite. Why would Jesus do that?). Instead of tackling the unappealing scenes, teachers, pastors, and scholars have generally trundled them away, overlooked or dismissed them. In The Bad Habits of Jesus, Sweet looks at a number of troubling occurrences in Jesus' life. As Sweet reviews the controversial stories, he brushes away pre-conceived notions connected to the accounts as though they were cobwebs, and presents to the reader his significant and culturally perceptive impressions of the incidents; and be ready, because these ideas can change a lifetime of status quo understandings about the well known and oft quoted narrative of Jesus' life.
Among the bad habits that Sweet addresses in his book are:"Jesus Spit";"Jesus Offended People, Especially in High Places"; "Jesus Broke the Rules" and "Jesus Loved to Party." Here is a paragraph from "Jesus Spit," about the healing of a blind man:
Imagine the shock—or perhaps not—when Jesus faced the man and spat upon the ground. Perhaps everyone around him was nodding in approval, thinking that Jesus was obviously showing his contempt for the outcast Jew. But then Jesus did the unthinkable. He reached down, gathered up the spittle and some dirt, made a poultice of mud, and then applied the clay to the man’s eyes. From a gesture of insult, Jesus created a magnificent and powerful blessing. And isn’t that how God works anyway?
As a good rabbi, the things Jesus did - even those things that were unsettling - were intended to teach others about God and God's Kingdom. The subtitle of Sweet's book points this out telling us that Jesus' bad habits were meant for "Showing Us The Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong." Here is the counterintuitive, paradoxical outcome for Jesus' unorthodox behavior: something undeniably good comes from what appears to be bad.
It also might seem that a book about Jesus' bad habits could leave a poor impression of Jesus on the reader, but rather, in giving us the low down on Jesus' bad habits, Sweet has lifted Christ high by revealing his love and compassion for the marginalized, the penalized and the disenfranchised.
The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing Us the Way to Live Right in a World Gone Wrong by Leonard Sweet will surprise, and possibly shock you, and make you reconsider stories about Jesus that you thought you knew well. It will also delight you to read how Jesus' bad habits have made a positive impact on the world. This would be a great book to read with friends, especially because there are discussion questions in the back of the book. Get a copy of The Bad Habits of Jesus and consider developing a few Jesus-style bad habits in your life.
The book is a quick read, however for the preacher there are nuggets of wisdom that can easily dropped into a message. The teacher? Great angles to help students to see Jesus "as the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow" in flesh, but this book can also be helpful for the disenfranchised Christian.
Sweet's words are never trite and condescending, but, like Jesus', he "spit words" to nudge and reveal Jesus as more than a preacher, teacher, healer, and friend but the living Son of God who takes away the sins of the word, Jesus: The Lord and Savior.
Sweet gives us 15 bad habits Jesus demonstrated while He lived and ministered in first-century Israel. They were “bad habits” because they went against the grain of all that polite, religious society had ingrained in the culture.
To give you an idea, let me list just one of Jesus Christ’s bad habits: He enjoyed the company of women. I know today many people would say, “Yeah, so what’s the big deal.”
The big deal is that women were called “misbegotten” by Aristotle. They were persona non grata if they weren’t in the company of their fathers or husbands. They could be mistreated or divorced solely because their husbands wanted to. And women could never—ever!—be a student of a rabbi.
And yet Jesus not only taught women, but He treated them with a dignity and respect that was unheard of in His culture. He allowed them to have key roles in supporting His ministry, and He elevated their value in society. Leonard Sweet points out, “Jesus is the first Person in recorded history, in fact, to critique the ‘male gaze,’ saying that ‘Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ Jesus took the proverb ‘As he thinks in his heart, so is he’ seriously but went beyond ‘Don’t do it’ to ‘Don’t even think about it!’” Jesus protected women like they had never been protected before.
This is truly an innovative, paradigm-busting, eye-opening book, and in the process, my understanding of what Jesus taught and demonstrated in the Gospels was expanded as well. “The Bad Habits Of Jesus” is written in such an engaging style that you will have a hard time putting it down.