John Eldredge has got my number. Wild At Heart spoke to me as a man … The Way of the Wild Heart spoke to me as a father, and now Beautiful Outlaw speaks to me as a follower of this man called Jesus Christ. His book reveals the personality and nature of Jesus… at once “playful, disruptive, and extravagant.”
More words about Jesus are helpful only if they bring us to an experience of him.
These are bold words to put on the first page of a book’s Introduction. But with Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldredge has done just that: brought us closer to Jesus the man, to the dangerous personality of the savior of the universe. The book does a great job of using the scriptures within context to show us what Christ was like.
The Playful Heart
God has a sense of humor. We only have to look at nature for proof of this: One word: Platypus. Seriously?!? What exactly is the purpose of this animal, unless it’s God, just messin’ with us. Or maybe we see God’s playful heart in the personalities of our pets, or watching two chipmunks chasing each other around the park. Through his extravagant creation, God shows us that he’s not all business.
In one example, Eldredge uses the story of Christ meeting his disciples on the Emmaus Road after his resurrection:
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked.(Luke 24:13-19)
Can you just imagine the men walking together: Two men, defeated, dejected, and going to dinner to console themselves with friends. The third man, just back from Hell and his victory over sin, who proceeds to ask, tongue-in-cheek, “So what’s been going on around here?”
Jesus is playing this situation for all it’s worth and he’s enjoying a little subterfuge. He’s “punking” his friends.
Sometimes we don’t like to admit this, but Christ was anti-religion. He spoke out against the priests, the judgmental jews, and the ones who were more worried about looks than relationships. A great illustration is when Jesus is invited to dinner at the home of a prominent teacher, a Pharisee. He doesn’t waste any time offending his host:
But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” You foolish people! …
and he doesn’t stop there:
“Woe to you Pharisees, because … you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.
“Woe to you Pharisees…
“Woe to you…
I love this book because it shows me this side of Jesus. Thank you John Eldredge for unveiling these aspects of His personality and bringing me into a closer relationship with Christ.
I think the first half of this book is a must-read for everyone. At about the halfway point, the tone of the author changes to address new believer or unbeliever who is meeting Jesus Christ in person for the first time. However, the entire book is absolutely worth your time.
I read Wild at Heart every year to remind me of the man I should be. I’m adding Beautiful Outlaw to my yearly reading… to remind me just how cool Jesus is. This book not only opened my eyes to a new viewpoint on Christ, but it gives me peace that Jesus is not an unapproachable “Wizard of Oz”… but a brother and friend to whom I owe my life. You need to read this book: to connect with the Savior that is like us… playful, raw, dangerous. Human.