Friday, March 29, 2013

Book Review: Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

Max Lucado has a noble goal for his readers. He wants them to look to the life of Jesus and be Just Like Jesus. A big point of his book that he returns to several times is this: “God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you there. He wants you to be JUST LIKE JESUS. Lucado guides the reader  to examine themselves and their relationship through various “types of hearts”.  For example, he suggests that, like Jesus, we ought to have a forgiving heart, a compassionate heart, a listening heart, a hope-filled heart and more.
It has been quite a few years since I have read anything by Lucado. I remember him as a good storyteller and some of his stories have a way of shedding some light on a particular topic. He still has this as part of his writing, but it is, part of the problem. Many times he tells a nice story; he helps us imagine what it would be like to be in a situation.  These stories sometimes feel forced to fit into the model of the book and many times it is just a speculation of the Biblical text that somehow feels a little off.
Another issue I had was that it doesn’t seem clear who should be like Jesus. Lucado makes the mistake of assuming the Gospel, that everyone he is writing to is already a believer. This is a pretty common, but I think it is a problem worth noting. Granted, most nonbelievers are not going to pick up a book like this, but a little more clarity would have been good, though most folks won’t notice this.
A big problem that I had with this, as well as with folks like Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life,  is that they don’t generally stick to one Bible translation. The versions used are chosen more because they fit the message the author is trying to convey. The problem comes when the verse is looked up, in context, and it doesn’t seem to be saying what Lucado is trying to say. This happens on more than one occasion. If the Biblical message is what is being looked at, it doesn’t seem that you would need to pick and choose a Bible version that fits your message. The accurate Bible translation ought to be our message. To me, this seriously undermines the sufficiency of Scripture and encourages a “choose your own adventure” type of Bible reading. If the topic is important enough, it wouldn’t seem necessary to pick and choose.
There were other difficulties I had with this book, but I will stop for now. It may seem like there is nothing I liked about the book. That is not true, but I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the book without these important caveats. There is a refreshing  part in Lucado’s simplicity, but it is also a source for the problems in the book. A fan of Lucado with enjoy this read, and in the big picture, it seems rather harmless in its content and the goal is certainly good- to be like Jesus. If you are looking for substance, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a little spiritual junk food this will work and there are certainly worse books on the market. If you keep in mind some of these problems, the book is an easy going read.
BookSneeze® has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of the book.

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