Friday, October 7, 2011

Beautiful Outlaw [Extravagant Generosity]

Today, I am participating in a rather unique blog tour for John Eldredge's latest book Beautiful Outlaw. Rather than simply writing a review of the book, I was asked to write a response to a particular chapter. I feel a little bit like I'm in school again . . . here we go . . .

My Thoughts

I love the premise for the book: to look at the personality of Jesus in order to know Him better and have a more intimate relationship with Him. It's brilliant, actually. Jesus spent 33 years on earth living as fully God and fully human. His earthly life was recorded in the Gospels . . . so we should have a pretty good idea what Jesus is actually like . . . and therefore what God is actually like. Right?

Unfortunately, I think we spend a lot of time putting God in a box.

God is love. Or God is judge. Or God is hope. Or God is . . . fill in the blank.

Yes, God is love and judge and hope and so many other things. But that's the thing. He is ALL of those things. Not just one characteristic that meets our needs for the circumstance that we're in. He is always all of Himself.

Eldredge covers a variety of characteristics of Christ - cunning, trueness, honesty, beautiful, humility, generosity to name a few.

In chapter six, Eldredge focuses on the extravagant generosity of Jesus. He begins by pointing out two miracles that Jesus performed: turning water to wine at the wedding in Cana and the disciples fishing after Jesus' resurrection. I had never noticed (or paid attention to) the specific language that the Bible uses to show us how much Jesus did in these instances. Jesus didn't just perform a little miracle and give just the right amount to get by. He did way more than what was needed. I'm also reminded of when Jesus fed the 5,000 and twelve baskets of fish and bread were left over after everyone had eaten.

Yes. That's extravagant generosity.

He then goes on to talk about how Jesus is extravagant in all of the creation he give us - our senses, the various displays of the sun throughout the day, the ocean, and on and on.

Yes. Again this is extravagant generosity.

Eldredge wraps up by talking about how Jesus ultimately shows his generosity by giving of Himself. His time with the many people who needed Him when He walked on the earth and ultimately by giving His life for our salvation.

Yes. Obviously. The most extravagant generosity ever.

First of all, each chapter is a "vignette" so the chapters pretty much stand alone, although they work together to support the idea of learning more about Jesus' personality. I felt like Eldredge spent too much time talking about the creation that God gave us. There are so many other things that he could have talked about that were completely ignored - people, relationships, the church, the Holy Spirit. And ultimately, the generosity of the sacrifice of Christ's life for the salvation of the world . . . it felt like it was thrown in to wrap it up really quickly. I felt like this should have been the main point rather than the concluding thought.

I will say that I love Eldredge's writing style. It feels very much like you're sitting at the table, drinking a cup of conversation. Or perhaps like you're reading a letter written just to you. It feels very personal. I also thought the footnote at the bottom of page 59 just reinforced this even more . . . almost like an inside joke between the two of us.

Eldredge is also a master of description. His description of the waves and the ocean and the beach and the sand and the seashells call to mind such realistic images that it seems as though you are there with him, seeing what he is seeing.

Although, I wish he would have gone a little deeper with this chapter, it was extremely thought-provoking (can you tell?) and has caused me to reflect on the character of Christ.

I received a free copy of this book from Faith Words in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Reading the Gospels without knowing the personality of Jesus is like watching television with the sound turned off. The result is a dry, two dimensional person doing strange, undecipherable things.

In Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge removes the religious varnish to help readers discover stunning new insights into the humanity of Jesus. He was accused of breaking the law, keeping bad company, heavy drinking. Of being the devil himself. He was so compelling and dangerous they had to kill him. But others loved him passionately. He had a sense of humor. His generosity was scandalous. His anger made enemies tremble. He'd say the most outrageous things. He was definitely not the Jesus of the stained glass.

In the author's winsome, narrative approach, he breaks Jesus out of the typical stereotypes, just as he set masculinity free in his book, Wild at Heart. By uncovering the real Jesus, readers are welcomed into the rich emotional life of Christ. All of the remarkable qualities of Jesus burst like fireworks with color and brilliance because of his humanity.

Eldredge goes on to show readers how they can experience this Jesus in their lives every day. This book will quicken readers' worship, and deepen their intimacy with Jesus.

About the Author
John is part of the leadership of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God, recover their own heart in his love, and learn to live in his Kingdom. John grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles. John earned his undergraduate degree in Theater at Cal Poly, and directed a theater company in Los Angeles for several years before moving to Colorado with Focus on the Family, where he taught at the Focus on the Family Insitute. John earned his master's degree in Counseling from Colorado Christian University, under the direction of Larry Crabb and Dan Allender. He worked as a counselor in private practice before launching Ransomed Heart in 2000. John and his wife Stasi live in Colorado Springs with their three sons.

Additional Resources
Be sure to check out the 18-part video series that goes along with the book. It's free!

There's also a free companion guide for individual or small group study.

Check out the other stops on the blog tour.
Chapter 1 [The Playfulness of God and the Poison of Religion]
Chapter 2 [The Missing Essential - His Personality]
Chapter 5 [The Most Human Face of All]
Chapter 7 [Disruptive Honesty] - Oct 8
Chapter 11 [Trueness] - Oct 9
Chapter 12 [Beautiful] - Oct 10
Chapter 13 [Loving Jesus] - Oct 11

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for spreading the word! We're really excited about Beautiful Outlaw and are so grateful for your words here.
    Karen, for the Ransomed Heart Team


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