Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough

Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough

4.3 38
by Jefferson Bethke

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Abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace the promise of being truly known and deeply loved. 

Jefferson Bethke burst into the cultural conversation in 2012 with a passionate, provocative poem titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The

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Abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace the promise of being truly known and deeply loved. 

Jefferson Bethke burst into the cultural conversation in 2012 with a passionate, provocative poem titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The 4-minute video literally became an overnight sensation, with 7 million YouTube views in its first 48 hours (and 23+ million in a year). The message blew up on social-media, triggering an avalanche of responses running the gamut from encouraged to enraged.

In Jesus > Religion, Bethke unpacks similar contrasts that he drew in the poem—highlighting the difference between teeth gritting and grace, law and love, performance and peace, despair and hope. With refreshing candor he delves into the motivation behind his message, beginning with the unvarnished tale of his own plunge from the pinnacle of a works-based, fake-smile existence that sapped his strength and led him down a path of destructive behavior.

Bethke is quick to acknowledge that he’s not a pastor or theologian, but simply a regular, twenty-something who cried out for a life greater than the one for which he had settled. Along his journey, Bethke discovered the real Jesus, who beckoned him beyond the props of false religion.

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Editorial Reviews

A year ago, young Christian evangelist Jefferson Bethke released a subtly rhymed video entitled "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus," which has galvanized the attention of a wide audience. (At this writing, it has notched more than 24.5 million hits.) His Jesus > Religion extends and details that 4-minute message to a more fitting length. While emphasizing that he is neither pastor nor theologian, he shares his message of a deeper Christianity that is based on Christ's truly life-changing core imperatives.

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Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
JB_AccordingToJan More than 1 year ago
First-things-first, grace overload! This book is saturated with grace. Jefferson Bethke didn't go to seminary school nor is he a pastor, which gives him the inclination to say "I'm not really qualified to write this book." However, he realizes that God is not looking for qualified people, but for people who are broken and willing to admit that they need His grace. Jefferson puts it this way, "It's like God is saying the only way to qualify is to admit you don't qualify." You will learn from reading his book that grace is a scandalous love story, "God's grace isn't nice and cute. It's scandalous." Grace is for everyone, the broken, the dirty, and the lowest of the lowest. We all need grace, and Jefferson understood that: "Grace isn't there for some future me but for the real me. The me who was messy. The one 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. That truth changed my life, and I'm convinced it can change yours." Jefferson is sharing the invitation that was made by Jesus Christ at the cross to abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace that fact that you are unconditionally loved, and so much more. Jesus>Religion is story of a radical man with a radical message, changing people's lives in a radical way. Read a full review at: accordingtojan (.com)
JKBane More than 1 year ago
In all reality this is a book I believe everyone needs to read. Whether you’re a Christian or not, it is a challenging book. Jefferson walks the reader through his history with religion and Jesus. He communicates a strong message of how Jesus is greater than religion. The resounding theme of the book is everything is about Jesus, it’s a message of the love of God through his Son. The book doesn’t beat around the bush, Jefferson doesn’t hold back. It is message this generation needs and actually deep down wants to hear. This is your chance to take your faith to a whole new level! I encourage everyone to pick up a copy and when you are done reading, pass it along to someone else. But this is your warning…you will be challenged, you will have to make a choice to face fears and your perspective of people and sin may need altered. While the book does discuss some heavy topics it is a VERY encouraging book. Many times are I was reading I was laughing, smiling and literally having a good time with the book. I felt as if my life was interacting with the words written. The message is a message of life! You won’t regret reading this book. It is worth the time, the money and investment. It is a message you will want to share with your loved ones. Happy reading!
RosalbaL More than 1 year ago
This book has change me an so many ways. You may ask yourself why many people go to church and still don't change. Well, let me tell their purpose is totally different instead of seeking God, which is the answer to all our question, they seek just religion. They start looking at what other people inside the church do wrong or even what the Pastor did wrong. They think its about staying comfortable, and it's really not. So, if you interested in this book, please be sure read it. Because its going to bless your life, ad you wouldn't like to miss it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If there’s one person who could grab the attention of my generation about Christianity, it would be Jeff Bethke. His stark honesty is invigorating, and his openness to his pains and temptations (drugs, sex, alcohol) made him all the  more real and tangible. It’s not a story about a good Christian boy who did everything that was asked of him. It’s a story of a messed  up twenty year old who was pursued, loved, and redeemed by Jesus in spite of all that he has done. He goes on to talk about how different religion is [his definition of religion: any system that upholds moral effort or good behavior as a way in which we can have a proper relationship with God.]  from Jesus. -Religion makes enemies/ Jesus makes friends -With religion, there are good and bad people/ with Jesus, there are only bad people in need of grace -Religion is a means to get things from god/ If we seek Jesus, we get God -With religion, if you are suffering, god is punishing you/ God already punished Jesus on your behalf, so suffering is His mercy -Religion says, “God will love you if…”/ Jesus said, “God so loved…” -Religion points to a dim future/ Jesus points to a bright future -All of these points are found in the table of contents. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to take that first step towards getting to know Jesus. The real Jesus. The Jesus who is dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing… not the safe and sanitized Jesus who is too good to be crucified. This book is for non-Christians and Christians alike. Those who don’t know or understand the meaning  of grace, those who turned their backs on God because they felt going to Church to be a chore or a duty or a guilt-driven action, those  who think they’ve got it together, those who are suffering, those who are curious, and those who think they know everything. His words very much resonated with my thoughts on religion, and he answered important questions that once made me skeptical about my faith. Having him explain grace through his example made me understand its power and scandal, and it helped me dig deeper into my faith and find the real Jesus.
TKLee More than 1 year ago
Jesus > Religion is a game changer; this book has the potential to shift how an entire generation knows Jesus and to clearly see when He’s being falsified and used, especially in the name of religion. When Jefferson Bethke’s video went viral in early 2012, what impressed me even more than his spoken word poetry was how he responded to his critics. My expectations therefore were high for Jesus > Religion and Bethke exceeded them all.  Thoughtfully unpacking the message from his video and going much deeper, Bethke is open about his own struggles and shares his faith journey. Bethke’s strength is in his gift for juxtaposition. He has the humility of someone twice his age, while speaking truth in today’s vernacular. Between intersections of words, Bethke calls us all out on our hypocrisy with directness and grace. I would highly recommend first reading this book yourself before gifting it to someone who isn’t familiarity with the Bible. While Bethke does a great job of giving context to the stories he uses from the New Testament, especially in the later half of the book, not as much context is given for the Old Testament references. With discussion questions written provided at the end of each chapter, this is a great book to read and discuss with a friend.
amber042004 More than 1 year ago
Have you ever met a new friend, with whom you were like "YES! Someone who understands!" It's like hearing your heart and thoughts echoed back to you... That's what Jefferson Bethke's book, Jesus > Religion  was like for me. Jeff shares pure grace. How we don't have to do (nor CAN'T) do anything to earn or lose the Father's love for us. "God broke me to fix me because He loved me." -pg 6 "Religion says do,Jesus says done." -  pg 28 "When Jesus told the first disciples to love their enemies,he didn't add " as long as they look like you,talk like you,and act like you". Loving your enemies means loving THEM ." -pg 63 "We don't want to take advantage of it{grace} because because there is nothing better out there to take advantage of it for." -pg 152 This is an encouraging,challenging book that will provide fresh revelations of the Fathers love toward you! It will change how you view yourself,your relationship with the Father,and how you view others around you! WELL worth the time and investment!
stephcolston More than 1 year ago
WOW Jefferson doesn't candy coat it! This is an amazing book!  Be honest about your weakness, be honest that you're scared, and be honest about the fact that it's Jesus who defeats the sins that  trip you up, not you. His ways aren't our ways, BUT his ways save.  OUR WAYS DONT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of Jefferson's video "Why I hate Religion, but love Jesus" I was so excited for the release of this book. An insight for those who are lost. This is the most lost generation which is disheartening because as we are in the last days it's important that we as Christians make a push forward. With so many things in the world against God and religion It's up to us to take a stand and spread the truth about the importance of relationship between ourselves and Christ. Jefferson dives into subjects many are afraid to touch on. He is broadening a narrow path. I find reading this book along side my bible really helps put things into perspective. God gave us rules, not to beat us with but to guide us. Jefferson does an amazing job at bringing his own personal testimony into the book while expressing his past regret, thoughts, and love for Jesus bringing the literature full circle. Jefferson shows that the norm that you're used to is in fact what's keeping you away from Jesus. His love is more than just failing at decisions you make every day, he shows how the Love of Jesus is never failing, and never ending despite our mistakes, that anyone wants it, can have it... It's up to you to get it. Bottom line is, Jefferson has started something that this generation needs. An army of sinful souls preaching their Love for Jesus to the masses, one I am happy to be a part of.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Words cannot describe how incredible challenging, convicting, yet beautifully encouraging “Jesus > Religion” is. So many of my questions have been answered, but the book also brought up a lot of other good questions that stretched me. My faith has been made stronger through this book and I’m already in the process of reading it a second time! Jefferson really dives into why we should completely love others and how God views us as his children. There is hope and victory through Jesus and I really hope that those who read it will realize this! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT book. It is amazing. It really made me think and it is a great discussion. The only bad thing is it didnt have a great ending kinda build it up and them let me down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much because it's like talking to Jeff and hearing his thoughts and seeing that his struggles are like ours and everyone's. This book is amazing and inspiring it will uplift your heart and let you realize that you are not alone and that we are all in this together truly under Jesus's grace. 
D_Elizaeth More than 1 year ago
As a 23-year-old, I found it so nice to read a book about Christianity by an author who's also in their early 20s.  It was relatable, full of truth, and very well-written.  I'm recommending it to everyone I know - it truly is life-changing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't say that the book was poorly written, because it was not. However, the author just annoys me tremendously. First, he has absolutely no background in theology or biblical studies, yet writes as though he knows it all. Second, he over-generalizes and puts all Christians in one category. We ALL "prostitute" Jesus and we ALL either worship sex, food, possessions, or other things. I would have responded better to the book if he would have written from his personal point of view instead of putting all of his readers in the same boat as him. I don't doubt that this book will reach unbelievers and turn their hearts to The Lord and that's great, but it was hard for me to get through. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. The information is based on what I was raised to believe Jesus is all about. We are to love our God and each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, reading it again with my sisters in christ group! Got to meet him and listen to him speak at one of his book signings he is a great guy! Cant wait to read his wifes book coming out this spring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Helped me grasp the fact that I don't have to be perfect to be loved by Jesus (:
malmal0505 More than 1 year ago
Let me tell you, this is NOT a book you can just rush through.  I totally mean that in a very positive way.  This book definitely gives you some food for thought.  His comparisons on Jesus' outlook on things versus the whole religious outlook is spot on.  In my opinion, he's not calling Christianity (the truest form...beliefs, His Word, etc.) bad.  It's the religion Jesus was against (the man-made and wrong kind) that he does.  This book makes you take the time to look deep down inside and truly think about it all.  He has interwoven his own personal stories along with biblical truths to show us just how much Jesus loves us and wants His best for us.  He pointed out a lot of good points that made me have a few "aha! moments" of my own and, at times, his words would cause an "ouch" or two.  This is definitely a book that I would and do recommend :)
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louieML More than 1 year ago
I found the topic confusing. I still don't understand the message that the author is trying to convey. The language of the book was not easy to follow, therefore I'm sure I didn't get the message the author was trying to deliver. I would like an interpretation by the author in layman terms.
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