A couple years ago Jeff Bethke broke on the scene with his viral YouTube video ‘Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus‘ which has since racked up over 26 million views. This led to him being a pretty hot commodity in the Christian community and has given him quite the opportunity to share the Gospel. One of the ways he has worked the spread the Gospel is through the book “Jesus > Religion” which came out last month.
In an open, real and gritty look at his life, Jeff shares his struggles with God, but also how God has continued to reveal himself to Jeff throughout his difficult life, and with chapter titles like ‘Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” I found myself chuckling but also very much relating to the themes Jeff addresses. When the video first came out there was a bit of discussion from within The Gospel Coalition circle on if Jesus really does hate religion. So aside from that, I really enjoyed the book. (But when Lecrae writes the intro to the book, it’s hard to not look forward to it)
One of the toughest chapters for me to read was the 4 chapter, “Religion Makes Enemies/Jesus Makes Friends.” This chapter deals with divisions in the church which is one of the issues that I face on a regular basis. The main issue he addresses is homosexuality. Only he doesn’t address it from a hypothetical perspective, but from a personal perspective. His mom was openly gay, and he struggled with how he should interact with her as a Christian.
In this chapter was one of the most profound statements in the book. Jeff says,
Last time I checked, I was my own worst enemy. No one has caused me more grief, pain, or heartache than I have. The Bible rarely tells me to fight against someone who doesn’t believe what I believe, but it frequently tells me to fight against my sin and the disease that’s drawing my away from Jesus.
The whole book is definitely worth reading, and one I would recommend for church small groups/missional communities. At the end of each chapter is some questions to work through the material in a practical way. This makes applying the book a very simple process. I’d keep it on your shelf and loan out on a regular basis.
I’d also check out Tim Challies’ review of this book.