Friday, February 27, 2015

Jesus Outside the Lines~



Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides



A powerful, practical little volume! 

I requested Jesus Outside the Lines because of the subtitle. 
Who isn't tired of taking sides? 
I can turn on the radio these days and my head starts spinning. 
So many issues, so many debates, so many hot topics.... 
How do we pick our battles? 
And is that even an analogy we should use? 
Are these confrontations to win or opportunities to engage? 

This book claims to point to a way forward. 
Does it deliver? 
Yes. For me it did. 

Scott Sauls has arranged this book around ten contemporary areas of division, in our politics, piety, fiscal policy, and posture towards others.

Red State or Blue State? 
For the Unborn or for the Poor? 
Personal Faith or Institutional Church?
Money Guilt or Money Greed?
Affirmation or Critique?
Accountability or Compassion? 
Hypocrite or Work in Progress?
Sexual Freedom or Chastity? 
Hope Or Realism?
Self Esteem or God-Esteem? 

These chapters are not in-depth sermons about each issue that tell you what to say and think/
Instead, this book calls us back to foundational Gospel truths, allowing us to think about what that means for these issues. 

Sometimes I wish he'd had more room to explore the nuances of things, most particularly in the chapter on organized church. 
As always, we have to define the church first, as a family, not a building or program. 
And once we've said that, then people will ask why the family has to gather weekly on Sunday, in a stuffy/drafty/formal/unaesthetic building. 
"If you're hooking up with fellow Christians, challenging, counseling, and communing with each other, isn't that church?"
We all want a solid, committed, stable Christian experience, in church or out... and then we're right back where we started, re-inventing the wheel..... 

Even in places where you do disagree with him- on something big or small- I think you'll find him sincere and gentle. 
If he speaks and lives the way he writes (and people are saying that he does) then he's enfleshing his convictions with compassion, and always attempting to behold the Image Bearer in the middle of the issue. 

His chapter on sexual purity strikes some critically important notes. 
As long as fulfillment, intimacy, and satisfying relationships are linked so tightly to sex, then we can't realistically ask anyone to be chaste or celibate.
So should we fling away chastity? Heavens no. Instead, he asks to provide companionship, human touch, and emotional support for each other in "friendships as deep and lasting as marriage and as meaningful as sex." 
Wouldn't that help everyone out- no matter why you're single or for how long? 

Each chapter had a few gems that I heavily underlined.
In the chapter on Christianity and politics he says  "Public faith enriches the world not by grasping for earthly power, but through self-donation."  

Later, in Affirmation or Critique? he says "If people are going to get upset with us, let's at least make sure they are the same type of people who got upset with Jesus. The lepers and the crooks and the drunks and the gluttons and the sexually promiscuous people and the sinners and the nonchurchgoers, to be clear, did not get upset with Jesus....These people were drawn to him." 

Jesus Outside the Lines is worth a read, sooner rather than later. 

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