Monday, May 31, 2010

Jesus Manifesto

I had the opportunity to read Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola's newest book, Jesus Manifesto. I have read two other Len Sweet books and find him to be quite provocative in thought. He is a master storyteller and his prose oftentimes nearly become poetic. Some may love this, but for me, in the past I have found that while much of it sounds beautiful, is he fully explaining all these thoughts? Sometimes I just blame it on my not being smart enough. The good thing about this is I wind up chewing on what he has to say. At times he says things in such a way my initial response is to challenge it and in doing so I take a deeper look at things. Mr. Sweet has a way of looking at things quite differently than I ever have. (and probably would never otherwise ponder if it wasn't for his books!)

I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with Mr. Sweet's writing style. He and Frank Viola have authored a beautiful, well crafted book. I have always found Mr. Sweet to be infinitely quotable and yet.... still, there is much I don't fully agree with or understand.

The premise of this book refers often to Colossians, which makes complete sense. Colossians is a book about the supremacy of Christ. It's all Christ: Christ is all and is in all.

This book brings up that point that many churches and people have forgotten that; that oftentimes Jesus is tacked on as a side note in church. Indeed, this is true in many churches today with an emphasis on either social justice, or social "gospel" or so legalistic it is all about living right and self help than it is about Christ.

As always, Len Sweet is wonderfully quotable and his work is well researched. While there were several parts that I'm still musing over, I enjoyed this book. I especially enjoyed some of his illustrations.

Now the big question: Would I recommend this book? I would, but not to those that don't already have some basic beliefs down. To those that do, I think they'll delight in slowly chewing through some of the almost shocking ways he introduces concepts. (the whole concept of not being "like" Jesus but being Jesus is one that took some extra thought for me but I could see where he was coming from)

I am enjoying the trend of non-consumer church books and I love that his answer to it is a simple one: More Jesus. Not programs, self help, doing more in the community, but simply loving Jesus and living sacrificially.

Because I enjoy quotes, I'll end with one I found on page 68:

"What would Jesus do?" is not Christianity. Christianity asks, "What is Christ doing through me..... and through us? And how is He doing it?" Following Jesus means to "trust and obey," as the old hymn goes. But faith and obedience to Christ isn't self-effort. It's responding to God's will and living by His indwelling life through the power of the Spirit. "

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