John Eldredge is no stranger to those who read Homecoming Magazine. Walking the Dead, one of our earlier picks, is one book that deserves to be re-read every year or so, just to “recalibrate” our life’s purpose and mission as followers of Jesus.
But as you also know, I deeply believe that it is essential that we really know who this Jesus is who came to show us what God is like — that we don’t allow our perception of Him to get encrusted with “religious” trappings or hang sanctimonious albatrosses around His neck. It is also essential that we don’t reduce Him to a chum who lets us get away with murder in His name.
It is, then, with enthusiasm that I recommend Eldredge’s latest book Beautiful Outlaw. In these precarious times, it is perhaps more vital than ever to get real about the real Jesus, and Eldredge makes us encounter, without gossamer veil and shiny halos, the Christ who surprises at every turn. Sanctimonious this Jesus was not! Yet He was (is) — in the best way — holy and transcendent of cultural warp, a Christ who proclaimed in pure tones that He was not here for the private clique, but for all people. He was (and is) a Christ with a great sense of humor — a playful friend without guile, yet as cunning as a fox with those who try to con Him or themselves.
Eldredge strips away facades that have coated the real Jesus with prejudicial and ecclesiastical bias to expose the most authentic person to ever have walked this earth.
Eldredge rightly points out that one of our problems with knowing Jesus is that our era has “lost all confidence in the noble, the heroic, even the consistently good (and has) come to celebrate the neurotic.” We don’t know what to do with faithful friendship, innocent humor, pure truth-telling and virtue without cynicism or manipulation. We end up echoing Pilate’s question: “What, then, do I do with this Jesus who is called Christ?”
It is my deep hope that Beautiful Outlaw will cause you to fall in love with the real Jesus and want with all your heart to truly know Him.