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Weekend Reading: Jesus Loves You

December 2, 2011

Jesus Loves You…This I Know (2009, Baker Books) is a great title and concept for a book. The authors, Craig Gross and Jason Harper, are doing ministry for people most of us refuse to dirty our hands with. Gross is founder of XXXchurch.com which reaches out primarily to those involved in the pornography business and those addicted to its use. Harper is Director of Community Outreach for Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California. I’ll give these guys credit for putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak.

Jesus Loves You is well-written and easy to read. The authors focus on ten types of lifestyles or people and shares the fact that Jesus loves them. They emphasize that Jesus loves the:

  • Bitter and Betrayed

  • Disconnected

  • Broken

  • Forgotten

  • Skeptic

  • Glutton

  • Crook

  • Outcast

  • Porn Star

  • Religious

The problem is that is just about all they tell them. Apparently, all you need is love. Don’t get me wrong, genuine love is possibly the only way into the lives of these individuals. But the message cannot stop there. Jesus’ love is definitely an important part of the Gospel message, but it is incomplete. Recognizing Jesus’ love is not enough; and only sharing the message of love cheapens the Gospel.

The other problem I have with the book is that the authors spend a great deal of time speaking poorly of the church. Every church I have been part of has had its problems. Doubtless, some of that is my fault. Where the church is wrong, it needs to confess. Where it has failed to bear the image of Christ, it needs to repent and change. But the church is the institution established by God to build his kingdom in this age. I appreciate para-church ministries, but they are not established by God to be his witness. They are to come along side the church, not replace it. This ill will toward the church is a big trend among some evangelicals. The church is the bride of Christ. Don’t stand outside throwing stones; come inside and be a prophetic voice.

Most of the time, this volume appears to be written to unbelievers. On that count, I think it fails by not really sharing the Gospel. Sometimes it appears to be written to believers. There it fails by being mean-spirited. Either way, I don’t find it particularly helpful and would not recommend it.

Thoughts?

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