In her thought-provoking and sensitive new book, Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous, professor Joy Jordan-Lake cuts straight to what Jesus really says about holiness, peace, and forgiveness, with lessons from both biblical teaching and her own life. As the title suggests, this is not a comfortable topic. On the contrary, it is an invasive book, as the author pursues the truth with a frankness that highlights her shortcomings and faultsóas well as our own.
The book is divided into ten distinct chapters, each focusing on a different word central to the Christian faith. The author first sets up the standard definition, and then blows it out of the water with tales of her experience and studies that expose the lie to these explanations. Community is not just the fellowship of potlucks and Bible studies, but also the sharing of burdens and the mending of each othersí bared souls. Worship isnít merely speaking and singing Godís praises, it is a giving over of lives completely to His will. Sometimes hope surfaces only out of despair.
Each chapter is self-contained, and the book could be turned into a series of discussions for a youth group or Sunday school class. The book concludes with several pages of discussion questions apparently intended for this purpose. However, it is also useful for personal reading and introspection.
Joy Jordan-Lake is a professor of English Literature, has been the director of a food pantry, an associate pastor, and a journalist. From this experience-filled life, she draws a wealth of personal stories. Indeed, most of the book is composed of accounts and illustrations from her life and ministries. Her vulnerability should be encouraging to people who have dealt with shame and rejection.
The text is alternately hilarious and tragic. This bittersweet balance is kept throughout the book, a reflection of the ups and downs of daily life we all face. The authorís stories describe women comforting each other over the loss of a child, a student trying to grasp wisdom in a university classroom, or an incident of encountering grace in the form of a benevolent policeman.
This book shows why Jesus really should make us nervous. Redemption is free, but living the Christian life is not easy. We are in a continual struggle to attain holiness, but we fail and we will fail again. There is no simple three-step plan to removing sin and weakness from our lives. We can never be perfect people. That is the beauty of grace: that we have no ability to earn it and are ultimately undeserving of it.
Why Jesus Makes Me Nervous is an excellent book for the sophomore Christian, one who has gotten past the initial fervor of conversion and is beginning to realize that life isnít as comfortable and peaceful as the pamphlets described. It is also a good book for someone who is interested in Christianity but skeptical of the pat explanations he or she has received. By exposing her life to our scrutiny, Jordan-Lake has given us lessons that we can all learn from, even if they do make us a little nervous. Ė Nathan Biberdorf, Christian Book Previews.com
Jesus offers grace and mercy, but he's also ratcheted up all the rules. Nice as it would be to frame Jesus as fun-loving, or a mercy-dispensing friend, the stories we have about him are a lot more disturbing than that.
We hear about celebrations that began as a wake, and about people who didn't use their talents well being bounced clear out of the club. Jesus clearly thought that following the way of truth involved a lot more than simply avoiding things like murder, stealing, committing adultery or telling lies.
When Jesus truly makes you nervous, he is worth living and dying for, and becomes the greatest source of meaning and purpose in life imaginable.