Jefferson Bethke has recently published Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough. The book’s title and content are inspired by his spoken-word video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” which has been viewed 26 million times. Yes, 26 million.
Filled with Jefferson’s own story, the book is raw and authentic. It will engage many, especially young people, who have been hurt by or given up on the church. His conviction and passion are contagious and inspire hope for the next generation of Jesus-lovers and leaders. In the end, Jesus > Religion is about grace — unconditional, scandalous, glorious grace. And we all — every one of us — could use more of that.
We wanted to give you a flavor for the book, so we pulled our fifteen favorite quotes.
“I heard enough sermons to know Jesus died for me, but I also had such a broken and painful life that I figured Jesus wasn’t relevant… I had just enough Jesus not to need him at all.” (3)
“Initially, I blamed God for the pain in my life, but slowly I started to hear the whisper of his grace. I didn’t know it then, but God broke me to fix me because he loved me.” (6)
“Grace isn’t there for some future me, but for the real me. The me who struggled. The me who was messy. The me who was addicted to porn. The me who didn’t have all the answers. The me who was insecure. He loved me in my mess; he was not waiting until I cleaned myself up.” (7)
“Be careful when you pursue truth, because you just might find him.” (35)
“Heaven isn’t a place for people who are scared of hell; it’s for people who love Jesus. The reason heaven is heavenly—full of joy, life, and bliss—is because we’ll be with Jesus.” (44)
“If you care more about flaunting your Christian freedom than promoting Christian unity, you’re probably not free. You are actually a slave to your so-called freedom.” (53)
“No one is more religious than the Christian who gives grace to everyone except the religious older-brother types. [God] gives grace to the younger and the older. No one is past redemption. No one is past grace. All God wants is for both the religious and the rebellious to come into the party.” (56)
“The truth is, God doesn’t grade on a curve; he grades on a cross… A grace economy is backward to most of us—those who think they qualify, don’t; and those who admit they don’t qualify, do.” (78-79)
“[The Bible] was not given to us so that we could highlight and underline our way into eternity, but in hopes that we would have a special encounter with our Creator.” (85)
“God’s ways aren’t our ways, but his ways save. Our ways don’t.” (89)
“When we become Christians, we begin to follow Jesus, but the moments when he completely obliterates our self-righteousness and gives us a potent dose of real, transforming grace is when following him becomes deeply special.” (132)
“That’s the truth with God’s grace. It’s not that we are holding on tight in hopes to not be seduced by our old life and sin, but rather it’s that God’s grace is so sweet and precious it compels us to stay with it. Grace is better music than sin.” (152)
“Our lives on earth aren’t just placeholders until we go to heaven. We are to create, cultivate, and redeem while we’re here… We are created to infect and infiltrate culture, restoring and reclaiming what is God’s.” (156, 172)
“The truth is, God doesn’t just want your ‘Christian’ things. He wants it all. When we realize the beauty of God’s grace in the mundane, not just the religious, that’s when we will begin to see him correctly.” (166)
“I saw that the church wasn’t a museum for good people; it was a hospital for the broken. Jesus wasn’t trying to create a place to show off his shiny employees; he wanted a place where his children could be healed.” (186)
Quotes are from Jefferson Bethke’s Jesus > Religion. Related resources from Desiring God: