The Jesus I Never Knew
by Philip Yancey
A couple years ago I read Whats So Amazing About Grace? for a class on Romans. I really really enjoyed the book at the time. It was fresh and loving in a way that wasnt demonstrated to me by Bible class teachers growing up. I hadnt encounted the God Yancey was describing in that book before that time.
Since then I have grown a lot (at least I hope I have) spiritually and the concepts Yancey details were not intirely new for me. This being the case it took a little longer to get into The Jesus I Never Knew. But the third part of the book, What He Left Behind, was phenomenal and did a great job of being the culmination of the other parts of the book and ended in a way in which the reader felt overjoyed, inspired, and expectantly waiting/laboring.
The three parts to this book were- Who He Was, Why He Came, and What He Left Behind. In the first part is a section on the temptations that shed renewed light on Christs humanity/vulnerability that was beneficial. Part two contained lots of highlights of Christs life that too often we glaze over or ignore in favor of more current cultural practices and Yancey did a good job of reminding the readers just how uncultural or counter-cultural Jesus message was. Yancey focuses on the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, His missions, miracles, death, and resurrection. We read this book as a Servant team (so all the interns in Rio) and this section fueled the most discusion. It was great!
Part three was about the ascention, the Kingdom, and the difference He makes. Part three really emphazied that by Christ ascending and sending the Spirit, those indwelled with the Spirit are now Christs physical body. We are the hands and feet. The Church is Christ in the world. This was a risky plan for God. The disciples were trusted to carry the gospel to the end of the world and they were not the elite, respected, influential type. Its a wonder the Church has survived so longer but perhaps that is a testimony to Christ in itself.
And if the Church is Christs body then what about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Christian slave trade, and apartheid. Such terrible things have happened in Gods name. But also since the ascention Gods hands on earth have spread wider and light has come to dark places through many notable people including St. Frances reaching to kiss and cloth beggers, Mother Teresa and the Home for the Dying, Wilberforce freeing the slaves, General Booth and the Salvation Army, and Dorothy Day feeding the hungry just to name a few. And God alone knows the multitude of followers and their unknown love enacted among the least. Just take my word for it this book ends beautifully. It doesnt rank in my top five or anything but it good.