Abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace the promise of being truly known and deeply loved.
Jefferson Bethke burst into the cultural conversation in 2012 with a passionate, provocative poem titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The four-minute video of Bethke’s spoken-word performance literally became an overnight sensation, with seven million YouTube views in its first forty-eight hours (and 24+ million within a year). The message hit like a blizzard on social-media sites and in forwarded e-mails, triggering an avalanche of responses running the gamut from encouraged to enraged.
In Jesus > Religion, Bethke unpacks the stark contrasts that he drew in the poem - contrasts between teeth gritting and grace, law and love, performance and peace, despair and hope. With refreshing candor, he delves into the motivation behind his message, beginning with the unvarnished tale of his own plunge from the pinnacle of a works-based, fake-smile existence that sapped his strength and led him down a path of destructive behavior.
Bethke is quick to acknowledge that he’s not a pastor or theologian, but simply a regular, twenty-something, soul-starved searcher who cried out for a life greater than the one for which he had settled. Along his journey, Bethke discovered the real Jesus, who beckoned him beyond the props of false religion.
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This book is life changing. I had seen Jeff's videos, and knew that he was on to something different than what I had learned growing up in a Christian home/Christian schools. I have always felt like I needed to "get right with God" before I could really be a Christian and "get into heaven". It was always about not having sex, not drinking, not cussing, etc. --and I was never good enough. Jeff's simple way of explaining the grace of God has completely changed the way I see God and how I want to live my life. I will continue to listen to this book over and over, it has sparked a new desire within me to seek God.
Reestablished My Calling
His purposeful and unashamed portrayal of grace and the Gospel were riveting. After Jefferson Bethke came and spoke at Liberty University this past fall semester (fall 2013), I HAD to get his book. Truthfully, I bought this audiobook after reading the actual book, which was the first book I had read for pleasure in years, and I read the whole thing in less than two days (during the hectic beginning of my first semester of college)!
I now know what the phrase "couldn't put the book down" means!
Soon after reading this book, I re-realized my calling to be a pastor. Now I am studying the Bible intensely in college as I prepare for ministry.
This book is incredible and really helps in so many ways in your walk with Christ, and even for those seeking or curious about Christianity.
I would say that, before coming to Liberty University, I had a particularly closed mindset about homosexuality and same-sex attraction. After coming to Liberty, my mind was opened to the actual struggle that this is, and the circumstances surrounding it. Jeff Bethke awesomely establishes what homosexuality is, along with the homosexual lifestyle, and shows how we can love them like Jesus without being the mean Christians that they are used to interacting with. It really helped me in that area.
- Chris Darius