So you're sitting in a coffee shop... and across the table from you is "Jesus." Not the real one, but one that you've made up in your mind... because He's cooler to hang out with.
About five minutes later, the "Apostle Peter" is punching him in the face.
I know how this sounds, but that's exactly why I want to recommend the book "Imaginary Jesus" to you by Matt Mikalatos. The book offended me in all the right ways, and I hope it does the same to you.
The premise is simple - there are a number of false versions of Jesus that we erect on accident and on purpose. For instance, the political Jesus who votes like we do... or the testosterone Jesus who chews glass and pokes fun at wimpy Christians. How about the legalistic Jesus who makes you feel guilty for what you aren't doing right... or the pushover Jesus who lets you do what you want and doesn't seem to mind.
In addition to the rather transparent content, Mikalatos tells it well through a style of memoir fiction... you feel like he's taking you along for a ride into his real journey with God, only he does so by using everything from situational time-travel to a talking donkey.
Again, I know how this sounds.
I have to admit that half-way into the book I was tired of all the false versions of Jesus I was reading about. It really became over-the-top, and then suddenly the author grabbed my heart with a question and issue that is all to real to all of us. Without giving it away, I'll simply say that his honesty in his question is something that all of us need to ask out loud... except we'd rather not.
Maybe because it forces us to go one-on-one with the real Jesus, and all of us - if we were honest- are too chicken to do that without finding a reason to.
I review a lot of books, and even this one was given to me free through Tyndale House Publishers. But it's worth the read, and there is even an audio version of it available. Like I said earlier, it's honesty will bother you and you will put it down... but then you'll pick it right back up.
I can't think of a better compliment for a book than that. Check it out.