I could probably characterize the last several weeks of my Twitter feed with the following messages:
Jesus is more restrictive than you imagined.
No, Jesus is more permissive than you imagined.
Jesus is more masculine than you imagined.
No, Jesus is more feminine than you imagined.
Jesus is more authoritarian than you imagined.
No, Jesus is more democratic than you imagined.
Jesus is more glamorous than you imagined.
No, Jesus is more ascetic than you imagined.
And on and on and on. And on. And then more.
Thus, on the day Jesus is Better Than You Imagined by Jonathan Merritt was released, I posted this:
— Scott McClellan (@ScottMcClellan) April 1, 2014
And now, having received a review copy for myself, I can tell you that this book is what I was hoping for and is not just another brick in the Christian Living wall at Barnes & Noble.
I’m not a proper book reviewer and so this this isn’t a proper book review, but suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and happily recommend it to you. In an effort to make my case, here are my thoughts on what Jonathan Merritt has brought us:
This is not a formula-driven roadmap to your best life now. This is not a guidebook to becoming a slightly better version of yourself. This is not a daisy chain made of platitudes and pronouncements.
This is the story of how one man was found and lost and found again. This is the story of meeting Jesus in silence, in mystery, in tragedy, and more.
This is not a book about what to think about Jesus, it’s a book about encountering him.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of book I need in this season of my life and in this morass of belligerence we call the American Evangelical conversation.
At one point in the book Merritt reflects, “Jesus is better than I imagined because He transforms my desires into opportunities to experience what truly satisfies.” That’s not religious drivel to be stitched onto a decorative pillow — it’s a hard-won bit of wisdom. And ultimately, I think that’s what I like most about Jesus is Better Than You Imagined — everything Jonathan Merritt shares in these pages has come at a cost to him. As such, the book is an invitation to travel a hard but worthy road. And like all good books, it’s also a reminder that you’re not alone on the journey.