Book Review: The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing us the way to live right in a world gone wrong, by Leonard Sweet
Far too often, the way we talk about Jesus tends to sanitize him and remove the revolutionary edge from his teaching. We refer to him as “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” and only talk about his instructions to “love one another.” As a result, we miss seeing the “rebellious rabbi” who demonstrated a number of bad habits. This is the conviction and thesis of author and speaker Leonard Sweet in his latest book, The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing us the way to live right in a world gone wrong.
Sweet’s premise is that we need to fully understand Jesus for who he is if we are to follow him wholeheartedly.
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he had habits and behaviors that were considered bad in the eyes of the culture of his day. Some of them seem wrong even today. All of Jesus’ “bad habits,” however, reveal truths about God’s love and message that are vital for us.
From a human perspective, Jesus demonstrated what we think are bad habits. Jesus offended people, especially those in positions of authority. He was constantly disappearing and going off by himself. Jesus told stories that didn’t make sense. He loved to party and hang out with the “wrong crowd.” Jesus broke the rules of the day. Jesus enjoyed the company of women and children in a culture that valued neither.
As the author explains the purpose of the book, he says that
This is fundamentally a book about the Incarnation. Where does the Incarnation fit in terms of theology? Most see it in terms of soteriology (salvation) or eschatology (end times). But I think it properly belongs within the framework of Creation. The consummation of the original act of Creation was the once-for-all-time incarnation in Jesus and the ongoing incarnation of that once-for-all-time incarnation in each and every one of us. If Jesus had not left but stayed, he would have kept inside him what was in him. That Jesus left us and sent us the Holy Spirit meant that what was inside him was let out and now is inside us.
That meant Jesus left us both his good and his bad habits. And in Jesus’ day he was most known for being bad, not good. The religious establishment of Jesus’ day were good—no, they were great. In fact, there was nobody better at keeping a list than the Pharisees were. The problem was they were so good, they ought they had it all wrapped up. Today, too, far too many churches are filled with people who are unrecognizable as Jesus’ followers due to their lack of Jesus’ bad habits!
Jesus was a master at challenging convention and the status quo. But he was also a master at healing brokenness. If you want to incarnate Jesus in your life and in your church, you need to quit tallying up your “good” behavior and try a few of Jesus’ bad habits!
Perhaps if Christ followers were less afraid of offending people and more concerned about letting people see Jesus in us, we would have a greater impact on our world.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.com/ book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.