I meant to subscribe to an online daily devotional for Advent but as I read it I realized that this was just the right book to prepare my heart for Christmas. But I didn’t originally pick it out for that reason.
If you are like me, you have dozens of books on your shelf that you bought with the firm intention of reading them—sometime. “Sometime” doesn’t usually come immediately. In fact, “sometime” may be years after its purchase. “Sometime” is often, as in this case, just when I’m about to take a flight and need something to read during takeoff and landing, and—if there’s no video entertainment—during the flight. In early December I was getting ready to fly to London to see my son and his family so I surveyed my library. I needed a book that wasn’t too heavy to carry, wasn’t a scholarly textbook, was written by an engaging author and seemed like it would keep me distracted during the bumpy parts of the journey. The funny thing about my collection is that in it I have books like Beautiful Outlaw that, as it turned out in this case, I have no idea when or why I acquired it. I don’t even know if it was a gift (so if you, the reader, gave it to me, you didn’t inscribe it, so please forgive me!). I recognized John Eldredge as the author of Wild at Heart, and this paperback version was only 225 pages long: it fit the bill, so I tucked it into my carry-on travel bag. Ironically, there was video entertainment throughout my flight and I was busy during my visit, so I barely got through the first chapter by the time I got home a week later.
Since I had started the book, over the following weeks I determined to read at least one or two chapters a day. I was thrilled to find that this book was apt reading for the season: it was a meditation on the true nature—especially the humanity—of Jesus Christ and how His life affects us. Eldredge paints a compelling picture of the true nature of Christ: as strange as it may sound, he demonstrates from the Word that Jesus is playful, disruptive and arrogant. He argues vigorously against the “religious” views of who Jesus is and he is not afraid of scandalizing the church establishment by characterizing Jesus as an “outlaw.” As he expounded on Jesus’ human side, I saw the full meaning—and value—of the incarnation and Christmas became all the more relevant to me. Jesus is the “most human face of all”—generous, honest, cunning, humble, true, BEAUTIFUL.
Eldredge doesn’t stop there: he makes sure he lets the reader know why it is equally important to understand and accept Jesus’ humanity as well as His divinity:
To know him as he is, is to come home. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. The purpose of your being here on this planet, at this moment in time, comes down to three things:
- To love Jesus with all that is within you. This is the first and greatest command. Everything else flows from here.
- To share your daily life with him; to let him be himself with you. On the beach, at supper, along the road—just as the disciples did.
- To allow his life to fill yours, to heal and express itself through yours. There is no other way you can hope to live as he did and show him to others.
He goes on to explain more fully how an intimate knowledge of Jesus makes the difference in our lives. My own personal experience as a prayer counselor bears witness to that fact: I have frequently witnessed God’s power to transform lives when clients go from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.
I was inspired and uplifted by this book and found myself entering into the full joy of the Christmas season because of it. I highly recommend this gem of a book to anyone who wants to deepen their relationship with Christ.
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you would know in the depths of your heart the lengths to which God reached down to touch you when He sent His Son into the world to experience ordinary life. May you know that even as Jesus Christ did the extraordinary, one miracle at a time, He never lost the ability to relate to us on every level.
December 25, 2018
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 Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge, pp. 139-140.