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Beautiful Outlaw: Experiencing the Playful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus Hardcover – October 12, 2011
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"Eldredge's trademark passion and personal transparency offer another inspiring challenge that could revolutionize lives as did his Wild at Heart."―Christian Retailing, Editor's Pick
"Bestselling author Eldredge (Wild at Heart), founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries, uses his playful style to uncover the truth about who Jesus really was. With an eyebrow-raising warning about the "poison of religion," he urges readers to turn from religious power displays and legalism and instead spend time falling in love with the man, Jesus. Eldredge repeats tales from the Gospels to reveal a leader who was both humorous and confrontational, generous and moody. Eldredge clearly loves his subject, almost chuckling in delight at Jesus' antics. Readers get an intriguing glimpse of Jesus waiting his turn in line, "snorting" in anger, and artfully outsmarting his enemies. On the other hand, many of the themes are recycled (e.g., Jesus is your friend, suffering happens for a reason), and the book lacks opportunities for application and reflection (e.g., study questions). Still, readers will find a three-dimensional Jesus and may find themselves re-reading scripture with an eye on characters' feelings."―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
John is part of the leadership of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own heart in his love, and learn to live in his Kingdom. John grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. John earned his undergraduate degree in Theater at Cal Poly, and directed a theater company in Los Angeles for several years before moving to Colorado with Focus on the Family, where he taught at the Focus on the Family Insitute. John earned his master's degree in Counseling from Colorado Christian University, under the direction of Larry Crabb and Dan Allender. He worked as a counselor in private practice before launching Ransomed Heart in 2000. John and his wife Stasi live in Colorado Springs with their three sons.
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I mention this because this is the big hindrance when one reads the Bible, especially when Jesus is speaking. If one doesn’t really think too much about what is going on beyond the actual words, you can miss quite a lot. This is what John Eldredge communicates in this offering. To fully appreciate who Jesus was and what he came to do, we have to understand so many more things than what is on the printed page. It doesn’t help that when most of us hear these stories in church, the pastor (or whomever) tends to read through the passages as a fifth grader would read Shakespeare. How can we possibly fall in love with the son of God when an orator doesn’t bother to inject any feeling into the words?
So Eldredge takes us through many of the interactions of the recorded Jesus and tries to do just that – inject feelings into the words. We explore many of the events that happened to Jesus, pick apart the scenery, study the other people in the room, and when done carefully, we get a better picture of who the man really was. This is not an easy thing to do. We must remember that Jesus was fully man AND fully God. He’d have to go through all of the trials, tribulations, heartaches, disappointments and anger that a human goes through, yet remain perfectly holy. For the most part Eldredge succeeds. The author is very honest as well admitting that at times he (or anyone) can’t know completely the issues within Jesus ministry, and sometimes even his best stab at what Jesus was really saying and feeling comes across as being a bit obtuse.
Example: We read several times when Jesus heals people and then tells them to go back to the town and “not tell anyone what has happened”. Why does Jesus do this? The author speculates that if Jesus actually commanded people to do this, our human nature would, in fact, make us do the opposite. As I read that I thought “um….. no.” I always believed that the reason Jesus told people not to tell people of many of his miracles was because he wanted to have a true, deep relationship with people, and not be looked at as a magic genie that would automatically grant people their wish. So depending on how versed you are in the gospels, you may come across several instances of issues such as this.
Still though, Eldredge succeeds in making one stop and think. To view Jesus as fully man and fully God, we must look beyond what appears to be a bland, boring emotionless being. We also can’t do the opposite which is to view a “white” Jesus glowing on a religious postcard with rays of majestic light beaming from his body. This books shows us the REAL Jesus, and for a man to be real, we must see everything, even if “everything” isn’t what we’re accustomed to seeing and hearing about from our Sunday school lessons. I remember one of the Hollywood blockbusters that dealt with the life of Christ (King of Kings?) where the movie producers insisted that the actor who played Jesus have his armpits shaved for the crucifixion scene. They were worried that harry armpits might offend some viewers.
Sadly, a little more than halfway through the book, the author seems to have run out of examples and strays from his original line of thought. It seems the last half of the book focuses on simply being one of the many devotionals out there. Not that a devotional is a bad thing, but I found the transition a bit jarring. In fact, when I finished the book, it seemed to be better suited for reading a few minutes each morning with a highlighting pen as opposed to a book that you would want to settle in for an hour at a time. Still, though, the author makes a lot of good points, has a very laidback style, and does a very good job of introducing the real Son of God to many who only know a one dimensional Jesus.
This is by far his best book. It is full of scripture and truth, and it wrecked my world. I highly recommend it
Thank you John Eldredge!