John Eldredge is the author and leader of Ransomed Heart Ministries. I have read all of John’s books and attended 2 of his conferences in Colorado. Here is a quick review of his latest book, Beautiful Outlaw.
Beautiful Outlaw inspires me to relate to Jesus in new ways, like many of John’s other books. Beautiful Outlaw focuses on the “man” in the personality of the God-man, namely Jesus. John describes how the humanity of Jesus is God’s beautiful solution that enables us to relate to him personally. He argues that the humanity of Christ is as important as his sovereignty, and experiencing Christ’s full personality is paramount to knowing him. He faults too many churches for letting the Deceiver distort Christ by being “highly invested in doing religion right.” In other words, their focus is on our performance versus what Christ has done for us and how he has made himself available to us to experience real life.
Biblically speaking, experiencing is the subtle and very Hebrew way of “knowing” someone or something. God leads the Hebrews into Sinai for 40 years in order to teach and test their hearts by experiencing what it means to be totally dependent on him for everything. This is God teaching them and us how to begin to “know” God.
John unpacks Jesus’ character one chapter at a time providing a channel to experience Jesus’ playfulness, fierceness, generosity, honesty, freedom, cunning, humility, trueness, beauty and loving.
By the middle of the book [pg 124], John really closes in on the crux of the barrier of experiencing God’s full character. Specifically he writes, “Consider the natural human longing to be loved and admired”. I would go further and say Jesus made each of us with a God sized hole in our heart that only he can fill. John’s point is that we all desire to be loved unconditionally for who we are. So when Jesus relates to us with his humanity, we hide [see Adam & Eve]. We don’t believe him because we don’t think of ourselves as worthy enough to receive the promises of these personal characteristics. We don’t believe we’re worthy because our experience focuses on our performance, what we think and what others think. The solution is to focus on Jesus’ performance, and on what Jesus says about us. John says, “Love Jesus. Let him be himself with you. Allow his life to fill yours. Everyday give him your life to be filled with his.”
John likes to quote George MacDonald. This quote isn’t in the book, but it seems to sum up the barrier that John is trying to help tear down, “Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because he would give us the best, and man will not take it.”