BOOK REVIEW – Mere Churchianity Part 3: Bringing Jesus Back to the Cente

I am back to agreeing with Spencer today when he argues that the biggest problem with both our society and the modern church is that we have sidelined Jesus himself:

The culture—including the academy—has decided to adopt the “any Jesus but the one in the New Testament” approach, while leaders of the church have asked Jesus to step into the wings and wait quietly while they keep the audience entertained.Read more at location 1364

Speaking of the Western Church as a whole Spencer is forthright in his condemnation:

“”It doesn’t look like Jesus, act like Jesus, or promote the agenda of Jesus.” Read more at location 1716

Spencer gives a compelling description of his own spiritual journey. It began when he realized that like typical Evangelicals, he thought little about the actual life and words of Jesus (or indeed his resurrection, but that is another story…!) He spent some time focusing on learning more about Jesus and encountering him in the Word:

It won’t surprise you to learn that spending three months with Jesus shook my safe Baptist assumptions to the core. The world inside the Gospels was not the same as the world in my church. Jesus didn’t talk like a Baptist. The issues that my church obsessed over (drinking, separation from the world, movies and television, denominational superiority) weren’t on the radar. Spending three months with Jesus did something else. I was a young preacher, but for the first time in my life, I realized I didn’t understand the Jesus I was proclaiming. I was religious from head to toe. But Jesus? In the Gospels, I discovered that Jesus was another world, another universe.Read more at location 1553

One thing that shook Spencer was that despite notions of separation from unbelievers which are common among Western Christians, and our disapproval of many who are different from us,

Jesus practiced radical inclusion of those who were excluded.Read more at location 1591

He explains further:

Jesus was a Man on a mission when it came to deconstructing the “who’s in/who’s out” code. He had his own idea of who was acceptable. He touched lepers, talked to women, allowed women to talk to him, allowed a sick “unclean” woman to touch him, heard the prayers of non-Jews, befriended Samaritans and sexually immoral people, forgave adulteresses, dined with tax collectors, befriended prostitutes, and went to parties with sinners.Read more at location 1604

If only we had more Christians who were truly Jesus-like!

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