Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Author Looks Beyond the Nice in "Jesus Mean and Wild"

  • Rick Stilwell Infuze Magazine
  • 2006 26 Oct
Author Looks Beyond the Nice in "Jesus Mean and Wild"

Author:  Mark Galli
Title:  "Jesus Mean and Wild"
Publisher:  Baker Books

I don't know that I was ready for this book when it arrived, but I have enjoyed the challenge and encouragement to follow Jesus into some pretty rough territory relationally.

Where most of us want to think of Jesus' love and acceptance, this book reminds us that He went on some rampages and dealt with anger in a way that was still righteous and, in fact, still full of love.

Mark Galli starts chapter one with a statement that continues to work through me: "God loves you and has a difficult plan for your life" (p. 21). In "Jesus Mean and Wild," he dives into the Gospel of Mark with the perspective that Jesus was more harsh than we give Him credit. There's anger and passion, hurt and real disappointment in the way Jesus interacts with the people around Him. They fall short; they don't get it; they lose focus; they disobey and mess with His plans - all things that can get to the best of us, and got to the King of kings and Lord of lords, too.

One of the topics that struck close with me is the notion of repentance:

... the problem with repentance runs deeper. ... They have been raised in legalistic environments and carry around a guilt-laden backpack that would bend the knees of a Himalayan Sherpa. And most of the guilt, they realize, is neurotic - not based on any real transgression, but the product of defective discipleship. ... Others still fight not false guilt but spiritual despair. The believe, rightly so, that true religion is about love and grace. But they've heard the rumor that the Lord is a holy God, and they suspect that they just may be miserable sinners. (p. 34)

He goes on to quote Eugene Peterson, "Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts" (p. 38). And that resonates with me, growing up in the Bible Belt where repentance is swallowed as horse pills for penance, being sorry for our sinfulness and turning to walk in the right direction. Instead, what if it's more about getting my life, as right as it might be yet, into an even more right step with God as He continues to move.

After repentance, Galli also tackles obedience:  "So it is with all the godly:  there is no difference between God's commands and His rewards" (p. 53). He continues to read with an eye for Jesus' anger in finding love that actually makes enemies in Mark 3 (Chapter 6), getting hacked off at Peter for totally missing the point of suffering in Mark 8 (chapter 11), and turning the tables on the money-changers and scam artists working the temple area in Mark 11 (chapter 14). I admit that I had seen some of that fire and anger in my own reading, but I'm finding more with this perspective in mind:  always keeping in the forefront that Jesus is still love, is still loving, is still responding in love while getting angry and frustrated with those around Him who should've started to "get it" by now.

I don't know that this is a book for everyone, because an angry Jesus might be too much of a reality in our own minds sometimes. But if you have a "theology of nice" that skews your perspective of who Jesus was on the earth, you might want to check this out. Let it stretch you a little toward this new notion.

 © 2006 Infuze Magazine.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.