“What is the focal point in our lives? Is it self? Is it our efforts? Is it our good deeds? Or is it Jesus?” ~ Judah Smith, author of Jesus is _____.
Life can pretty much be defined by our perspective on Jesus. Our opinions & thoughts concerning Jesus play into the way we approach life. In Judah Smith’s book, Jesus is ______., it’s Judah’s intent that the reader fills in the blank for themselves… but in his spastic ADHD sorta-way, Smith offers his own thoughts & observations to help possibly shape the way you see Jesus before jumping to any conclusions. The book was birthed from an evangelistic idea to place billboards in his hometown of Seattle, WA — simply presenting the “Jesus is _____.” madlib & directing folks to a website to fill in the blank.
Most notably known for being Justin Bieber’s pastor & golf buddies with Bubba Watson, Judah has a voice that speaks with relevance. Though he tends to be ‘all over the place’ sometimes, I enjoy pastor Judah & his heart to make much of Christ.
There were a few things, in particular, that stood out to me in his book…
Jesus seeks out sinners & befriends them.
We see in scripture that Jesus wasn’t concerned with His reputation perceived by religious leaders or discouraging critics. Jesus never tried to prop up His image or build some outrageous platform for his ministry. He never condemned sinners, but loved them & accepted them — confident that His saving grace would overcome all condemnation of sin.
Jesus came to reveal a God who defines us not by our actions, but by His love.
Jesus was obsessed with showing mercy & extending grace. He came to provide Hope for the hopeless. Jesus doesn’t care so much about the scandal, as much as He does about the scandalous — loving them without hesitation. And His compassion for us & obedience to the Father compelled Him to display His love as He died upon the cross and rose victorious from the grave.
Religion drives us to behave, then believe, and finally you’ll belong. Judah declares that Jesus would say otherwise.
Smith explains in his book that the essence of the gospel says we belong, then believe, and in turn behave. Essentially, amazing grace is followed by great faith that produces good works. This mindset can radically shift your mindset on how we perceive Christ & proclaim the good news of the gospel to those who desperately need Jesus. When we seek to accept people where they’re at in life, it breeds a love that reflects Jesus. It looks a lot like Christ’s initial encounter with His disciples. We, in turn, exercise our faith that God is the one who will impact the lives of non-believers — bringing forth change in their heart & deeds that proceeds from belief in Jesus. Cleaning up our lives prior to encountering Christ is unnecessary & a foolish stumbling block that we place in the path that leads to genuine salvation and transformation.
Pastor Judah’s book can seem a little unorganized and unorthodox at times, but he continues bringing the focus back to Jesus. If you’re like me and enjoy small portions of random & massive doses of Jesus, you’ll totally dig Jesus is _____.
***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”