Sometimes people give me books and that happened recently when a friend gave me John Eldredge's latest called Beautiful Outlaw. Eldredge has encouraged me greatly down the years and his newest work is not an exception on that count. In very simple terms, it is a book all about Jesus and how this contrasts with religion. This seems to be all the rage as a topic currently. The book seeks to connect you to Jesus as he is in the gospels not the Jesus as religious people would like to communicate him to you.
Only yesterday, I chatted with a man in a pub about Jesus. As so often happens, people tell me all about themselves, according to Dale Carnegie this is a good thing, but then the inevitable question comes, "So what is it that you do?" The moment I tell anyone my job so often I immediately get the person's reason for rejecting the gospel. This nice man retorted, "The problem is religion has caused so much trouble?". This opened the door to a really interesting discussion about Antigua, grace, Jesus, the people of Richmond, the Cross, sunsets, sin and terrible neighbours.
I know evangelism is easier for some than others especially if you are in the '...some to be evangelists' category. However, every Christian I think should be equipped to move on from any apologetic subject to Jesus and when you do so you are into a place where you can explore all sorts of wonderful deep and interesting questions of the heart. Then, if you know the Scriptures a wee bit, you can wield the sword of the spirit and 'the beautiful outlaw' always unleashes himself. I love seeing 'the beautiful outlaw' at work.
"Consider this one piece of evidence: millions of people who have spent years attending church, and yet don't know God. Their heads are filled with stuffing about Jesus, but they do not experience him, not as the boys did on the beach. There are millions more who love Jesus Christ but experience him only occasionally, more often stumbling along short of the life he promised, like Lazarus still wrapped in graveclothes.
Can you imagine anything more diabolical?
If you sent someone you loved to school for a decade, yet they remained illiterate, how would you feel about the education? If you referred someone you loved to a doctor, yet despite years of treatment, they not only failed to recover from the cancer but contracted HIV, hepatitis and gangrene, what would you have to conclude about the treatment?
I am not making accusations I am stating facts. There are noble churches and movements bringing Jesus to us. But alas, alas- they are the exception not the rule" [Pages 8-9]
The last chapter of the book suggests the best plan upon completing it is to start the book again and I think I might just do that. By the way, if you want to see a master apologist at work speaking beautifully about Jesus check out Keller answering Oxford students questions on evolutionary genetics, homosexuality, sex and various other matters.
All the Keller Oxford talks are available here.