Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jesus Loves You This I Know

This work was written by Craig Gross and Jason Harper in 2009 and is 196 pages long. It is by far the easiest read that I have reviewed this year.

Ross and Harper co-authored Jesus Loves You This I Know. Craig became "famous" in 2007 when his porn-debate with adult film star, Ron Jeremy, on the issue of pornography- came through Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Craig’s ministry and impact are fascinating. He has been on ABC Nightline and is known in the media culture for giving out the copies of the Bible that say on the front of them "Jesus Loves The Porn Star."

Craig & Jason’s new book is a collection of stories with lessons attached in each chapter. Craig and Jason take turns challenging readers to love unconditionally the way Jesus loves – a great concept in theory until they start naming names. Jesus loves the skeptic, the outcast, the glutton, the crook, the porn star. It’s easy to say God loves everyone. It’s even easy to say God loves a group of people. The challenge comes when real faces are attached to the category. Jesus loves Ron Jeremy. Jesus loves Gay Joe. Jesus loves the person who sexually abused you. Jesus loves the terrorists plotting the demise of your country… and Jesus loves you too.

Their main thrust is that many times we tell people that Jesus Loves Them and then don't listen to them at all.

Jason addresses this attitude in the 2nd chapter: Jesus loves the disconnected. Jason opens the chapter by recalling a conversation he had with a woman who challenged his relevance as a minister. After teaching a lesson one Sunday on being a light in the world, this woman vented to Jason that it is a lot harder to be a light in the work force when you don’t work at a church for a living. This led Jason to take on a job as a cable bill debt collector. There, he gained first hand experience dealing with people where they were. He learned to go above and beyond his job. On a routine bill collection, he ended up helping befriending a drunken father and over time, helped him sober up and reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Craig talked about his friendship with Ron Jeremy. Readers will be challenged by his words. There are not many who could rate higher than Ron as someone the church could disagree more with. Yet, Craig takes pride in the fact that he finds common ground in their friendship. Many thrash Craig for hanging out with Ron. However, Craig defends Ron’s humanity, not his sin.

In closing, my biggest struggle with this book is where to draw the line. At what point does a friendship with someone with such a different worldview become destructive to one’s own belief system?

Craig and Jason certainly have special calls on their lives that allow them to connect with those so different from them in a meaningful way. However, for the rest of us, porn shows and gay pride festivals are a stretch – and definitely uncomfortable.

This does not mean we should stop striving to be “all things to all men to win some.” After all, every place Jesus hung out made the religious elect very uncomfortable. I’d rather be stretched and flexible than become stiff and fragile. Thanks Craig and Jason for forcing me to take a hard look at my own hang-ups.

Your life will be better from reading this work.

Just sayin.'

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