3 Books to Challenge Your Idea of Christ & Grace

Grace is one of the simplest, yet most difficult to grasp, concepts of Christianity. A gift given, no strings attached. Yet, we keep adding demands, to-do-lists,  unreachable goals and declaring that Jesus is not enough. We approach the Bible like a spell-book, if we say these words correctly then this will happen, if we put good energy into the world then we will be blessed. We each re-write the character and qualities of God to match our own desires.

More than once, when speaking about the Gospels and current day applications I’ve been met with the phrase, “your Jesus or mine?”

I’m willing to wrap us all in grace, because one day we’ll both discover we got some parts right and other parts wrong. Jesus’ mercy is going to be enough for us all. – Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker wrote a post, 4 years ago, And Then The Conference Uninvited Me to Speak where she shared her upbringing in Christian culture being similar to my own. As a rule-follower “interpretations were rarely challenged by diversity, suffering, or disparity.” She highlights the stark contrast of what life as an adult is vs. what Christianity of our childhood offered and comes to the conclusion, “if it wasn’t Jesus making enemies out of the adopted, it had to be the structure in which we contained Him.” Matt Johnson in his new book Getting Jesus Wrong is coming to the same conclusion. In short, we’ve contained Christ in structures and to-do-lists, in easy fixes and formulas that don’t actually work.

Litfuse Publicity and New Growth Press sent me a copy of Getting Jesus Wrong: Giving Up Spiritual Vitamins and Checklist Christianity by Matt Johnson in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve had more than one conversation recently with those who identify with Christ but want nothing to do with “American Christianity.” This book is for them!

Johnson invites us to glimpse his own journey, mistakes through bad theology and where it has brought him. He doesn’t claim to hold the answers but actually displays humility in the fact that once again he could have it wrong.

But that’s the beauty of grace. We don’t have to have all the answers!

The beauty about #grace is we don't have to have all the answers! Click To Tweet

I’m talking about grace tomorrow on facebook live. Set your alarm clocks and join in at 6 a.m. MST for the first 5-min of faith facebook live devotional. If you are finding this post after the fact, it will be archived and you can join us every weekday morning in April 2017 as we explore who Christ is and what that translates into in each of our lives. It’s not just me talking, it’s a conversation that you can join in in real time with comments and friendly discussion. This book is a great place to start the conversation!

Getting Jesus Wrong: Giving Up Spiritual Vitamins and Checklist Christianity by Matt Johnson is a book I recommend you add to your collection on the study of Christ. Two other books that I highly recommend are The Jesus I Never Knew by Phillip Yancey and My Imaginary Jesus: The Spiritual Adventures of One Man Searching for the Real God by Matt Mikalatos. All three books will challenge your perception of Christ.

3 books to add to your study of Christ are by @BlingfortheKing ‏@mattmikalatos & Yancey Click To Tweet

We forget that grace is sticky, as in it sticks to us and doesn’t let go. Grace gives us grace to get things wrong. It allows us to ask some tough questions and go some routes that may seem scary as we grow in this journey of sanctification, justification, and every other big theological word you can think of.

I am thankful to authors like Matt Johnson and Matt Bays (author of  Finding God in The Ruins) who are willing to put themselves out there and ask hard questions that sometimes we are shunned in our straight-laced Christian communities for even bringing up.

If you are questioning your faith because of the container God/Jesus has been placed in, maybe it’s time to ask some hard questions about the wrappings. Have you confined the God of this universe into a spell/prayer book that you only pull out to get what you want? Is God only allowed to come out to bless or do you have the patience of  Job who when his wife told him to curse God said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

Are you questioning your #faith? It’s time to ask hard questions #AmericanChristianity Click To Tweet

In Getting Jesus Wrong, Matt Johnson parallels our understandings of God to that of a life-coach, a visionary, to-do lists, and more. It will challenge and strengthen you. You may walk away disagreeing with Johnson, but that’s ok. We’re all on this journey and at different points along the way. I’m sure Johnson would say the same, that we’ll see one day when we stand face to face with our Savior.

If you’re stuck fearing that day because you’re worried about getting it wrong, spend a little time thinking about your own theology of grace and whether your heart and mind are in agreement. For a long time, I said I believed in grace but I failed to live into it. Grace was good enough for everyone else, not me. When my heart finally caught up to my head I realized it was more than enough for me too, my life transformed.

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7 thoughts on “3 Books to Challenge Your Idea of Christ & Grace

  1. It’s so important for us to dig into God’s word for ourselves and not rely on other people’s definition of Christianity. The faith I grew up with was all kinds of messed up. I know there is only one Jesus, and He is more than any of us will ever fully grasp.

  2. This is so good, Hope! I admit for a long time I had God boiled down to a vending machine in the sky. Tremendous pain and failure in my life taught me that nothing is so simple. Faith is complicated. Honestly, it’s the work of some authors who I had previously considered taboo that allowed me to hold on to any shred of faith during the dark days. My journey has led me through the valleys of doubt and skepticism and His grace has guided me home. I can’t say that I’m more of what everyone around me wants me to be (a good, nice, quiet, American Republican Christian), but I am more in love with Jesus than ever and working daily to be a light and show the hope of Jesus wherever I am.
    Thanks for the book recommendations! I’m going to add these to my ever so long reading list! 🙂

  3. I think we all put God into boxes because our human minds cannot grasp His infiniteness, His perfect grace, His power. Our boxes might look different depending on who helped us build them (pastors, teachers, parents), but we all limit God. Hopefully, we learn to start expanding our ideas of who God is through seeking Him in His word. Then our boxes become bigger. Looking forward to heaven where we will truly see and understand His glory.

  4. It is human nature to sort and categorize things. We want things in their place. I sometimes think that’s why some people struggle to embrace or even recognize God as they can’t put him in a particular box on the shelf of their life.
    I haven’t seen any of these books, but they do sound like interesting reads.

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