“What if I told you that just because you call some people blind doesn’t automatically give you vision” Jefferson Bethke: Jesus > Religion.
I recently had an opportunity to review an advance copy of Jefferson Bethke’s new book Jesus > Religion. If you don’t know Jefferson he is the young man who made a name for himself by a YouTube spoken word poem that went viral. Jefferson strikes out against “religion” and drives home a vision of Jesus that we so often forget.
I wasn’t sure what to expect reading Jefferson’s book, I was intrigued by his passion and his story, and eventually drawn in by his authentic search for Truth. Jesus > Religion is not your normal marriage book, but there are values here that dive right to the core of many issues in marriages today!
What we want in marriage is oneness, but the way we pursue that is mired in the expectations, the rules, the “religion” of marriage.
I’m Right – You’re Wrong
“Religion, unfortunately, is notorious for making enemies…The minute you think you have gotten on God’s good side by your own behavior, you are naturally prone to demonize those who haven’t”
Marriage arguments are seldom black and white issues. Yes, there are some things that are just wrong but a majority of arguments are around those issues that have multiple sides. We struggle to get out of our own views, our own way of thinking to be able to hear and understand what the other side even is, let alone if it might be right. Our “right” automatically trumps their “right” because, well mine is the right… nuff said.
Jefferson points out over and over, religion is about rules, Jesus is about love. The amazing thing is that in that love, the rules are found anyway.
Saying Yes but Meaning No
“[Religion is] living by the rules to stay out of trouble rather than seeing the rules as tools to bring us into intimacy and joy.”
How many times have you agreed with something your spouse said only to avoid the fight? You don’t really think this is the best idea, but rather than saying anything you keep it to yourself. The problem comes days later when you let it slide because your spouse isn’t around, and think “no big deal they will never know”. Not only will this blow-up in the end but you are missing an opportunity for true intimacy. You are trading the appearance of agreement for a resentful settling that will only end poorly.
Make Me Happy!
“I think too many times as Christians, we confuse benefits with essence. We pursue the benefits of a relationship rather than the essence of that relationship. The trade-off is terrible because only when you pursue a relationship rightly can you enjoy its gifts. When you pursue the benefits, they never seem to satisfy”
We do this with God and we do this with our spouse too! We want them to meet our needs so that we can in turn meet theirs. That sounds right, but it is backwards. We wait and wait for our needs to be met, for the blessings or the happy to happen. We figure we do so much already, we are owed. We make a list of ways that the other isn’t meeting our expectations. We seek the benefits of marriage before the essence, the purpose. Author Gary Thomas says it this way, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than he designed it to make us happy”
Looking for a quick read and encouraging book to add to your list? Or do you know someone who’s been burnt by the religious institutions of today and you want to introduce them to the real love of Jesus? Consider checking out Jesus > Religion! If you hurry and order before Sunday Oct. 6th you can get some great “pre-order gifts” too.
Do you fall into any of these marriage pitfalls? How have you been able to overcome? Let us know in the comments!
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