Book Review: Speaking of Jesus

Carl Medearis is a pastor and follower of Jesus. He wants the world to know Jesus.  He is convinced that if people are introduced to Jesus, they will be willing, even eager, to learn from him and follow his ways. Having lived in Lebanon for 12 years, he is also a leader in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations.  Speaking of Jesus: the art of not evangelism is his invitation to the rest of us who follow Jesus to “quit defending Christianity” and begin inviting people to follow Jesus along with us.

In one sense this is another in a long (recent) line of “they love Jesus but hate the Church” books.  Since I haven’t read any of the others, I offer this one as a good one to read, if you only read one.

Medearis invites all of us who follow Jesus to reclaim our Lord and Savior at the expense of defending the Church, organized religion, or institutional Christianity.  Though I grew up in the Church, I did not feel beat up by Medearis’ characterization so much as encouraged that Jesus is really what each of us, at one time or another, found endearing and attractive about this faith.

The author has extensive positive experience sharing Jesus, his life and teachings, with those of other faiths and no faith. In each shared experience, Jesus is shared openly and inoffensively.

“Jesus didn’t come to build a Kingdom. He brought one with him.”  Simpler, clearly words have rarely been spoken, yet this line near the middle of the book captures Medearis’ overall intent; to invite us to join Jesus and to share Jesus.

Speaking of Jesus is challenging and reaffirming.  I’ve got this theology and Jesus stuff down in my head.  I know the answers to most questions.  I am smooth and quick with words that fit the situation.  Yet I am increasingly aware this is not what most people are looking for.

Medearis challenged me to offer Jesus rather than reason and compassion rather than passion. He takes on the “us versus them” that so easily characterizes so much inter-religious talk from several different angles.  I really appreciated the variety of ways he shares that it comes down to Jesus; not beliefs, not reason, not “winning.”

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