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Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others through the Eyes of Jesusby John Burke
Imperfect people are the only ones who change the world
Why were "sinners" so attracted to Jesus yet repelled by the religious? It had everything to do with the heart of Jesus. They sensed that Jesus was for themnot against them. Do the broken people in our lives feel such an attraction to us? Or do we unwittingly repel them by/i>/b>
Imperfect people are the only ones who change the world
Why were "sinners" so attracted to Jesus yet repelled by the religious? It had everything to do with the heart of Jesus. They sensed that Jesus was for themnot against them. Do the broken people in our lives feel such an attraction to us? Or do we unwittingly repel them by expecting them to clean themselves up a little before we can accept them? In other words, do our hearts reveal the heart of God or subtly reflect the heart of the Pharisees?
Through an engaging study of Jesus' encounters with imperfect people, combined with real-life stories of ordinary people having Christlike impact, this book will inspire you to love the messy people around youand the one staring back in the mirrorwith Christ's unshockable love.
"Beneath the surface of every broken person, there is a work of art waiting to be revealed. This book shows us how."Mark Batterson, author of The Circle Maker
"I wish all believers loved people who are far from God like John Burke does. Unshockable Love reminds us of our desperate need to join Jesus in the messy work of life-on-life discipleship."Ed Stetzer, www.edstetzer.com, author of Subversive Kingdom
"John is a man who not only knows Jesus, but knows that Jesus really saves and redeems broken people and makes them trophies of his grace."Alan Hirsch, author, activist, dreamer, www.alanhirsch.org
John Burke is the author of No Perfect People Allowed and Soul Revolution, and the lead pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, which he and his wife, Kathy, founded in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 4,500 members, made up mostly of unchurched people who began actively following Christ at Gateway.
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Those who are irked by Christians, take heart! This book really challenges them to look at their actions and words. But Christians, take heart as well! The challenges are thought provoking without making you feel condemned. In a very positive and loving manner, John lays out many of God's truths in straightforward, simple ways that I find too common sense to ignore. Looking forward to putting more of these truths into action.
I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ," said Mahatma Gandhi. Many people both inside and outside the church still share his sentiment today. Why is this so? Why do so many admire the One we follow but despise His followers? In this book, John Burke tackles this question to the ground until he comes up with a satisfying answer. His answer: Christians do not see people as Christ sees people. Instead, many share the vision of the Pharisees, who, Jesus said had no vision at all. In Mud and the Masterpiece Burke masterfully reveals the difference between how Christ saw people and how the Pharisees saw people. Christ saw the gold in people; the Pharisees saw the sin in people. Christ saw someone worth dying for; the Pharisees saw people who deserved to die. Christ saw sinners as sick people that He wanted to draw near to heal; the Pharisees saw sinners as sick people whose disease was contagious, so they kept their distance. Who are you most like? By the end of this book you will be able to discern the Christ in you and the Pharisee in you. Burke encourages us to cast out the Pharisee in us to make room for Christ to be "a friend of sinners" once more. If believers take this message on board, in ten years or so, we might hear people saying, "I like your Christ; I like your Christians also. Your Christians are so much like your Christ."
I can vividly remember hearing John teach on The Mud and The Masterpiece. I remember thinking that there was so much more to that than just a thirty minute lesson. Personally, I am excited that he has taken the time to go deeper and into more detail with that concept. This book stresses the importance of our identity without being preachy and overly verbose. John uses his personal struggles and the lives of other people to cover a broad spectrum of examples and applications of how God is a loving master artist and restorer and that we, as his children, are in need of and worthy of his attention and his restorative love. As John walks us through the biblical examples and connects them to today, we can clearly see what this is all about; love. I had to force myself to read this book in “stages” and not all at once, despite how easy it is to follow and how deeply it stirred my heart. This is a book that that I can see myself referring back to in the future. John uses language that makes me feel like he truly understands and believes what he is writing. I do not feel like he is talking “to” me, rather that he is talking “with” me. The questions at the end of the sections provide some great starting points for introspection and group discussion. I would recommend this book as a great follow-up to No Perfect People Allowed. The Mud and The Masterpiece is one of those books that will be applicable and provide insight no matter where you are in your faith-walk. I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded, more than I like to admit, that I am a Masterpiece and that while this world may not see my value, the Master Artist who created me does, and that is what really matters.
OK...I'm not exaggerating in what I'm about to say. I believe Mud and the Masterpiece is one of the most important books for Christians ~ and especially Christian leaders ~ to be written in decades. As Burke himself points out, "Churches and Christians today are in crisis and don't even know it," and in Mud and the Masterpiece, Burke nails the core issue in the Church that almost nobody is talking about, but that has infected us to such a degree as to render us largely impotent in our efforts to inspire the world toward God. But Burke does more than just identify the problem, he presents a solution. And it's a good one! It is the deep wish and prayer of my heart that Christians everywhere ~ and especially Christian leaders ~ read this book and are so profoundly impacted that the presence and voice of God's people in the world are forever changed.
If you saw a Rembrandt painting by a dumpster behind a museum, torn, covered in mud and dirt, how would you treat it? John's tender heart for hurting and broken people pulses insistently through this book, urging you to look for the Masterpiece God created in each person you encounter. John spent a year studying every encounter of Jesus with people. Often the Pharisees were there and provided a ready contrast to Jesus. The book challenges us to check ourselves on how we see and treat people, whether we are more like the judgmental pharisees focusing on their sin and brokenness, or like Jesus who saw their true identity and great value. Reframing the way we look at people requires God's help, of course, but also conscious effort. You also need to see yourself as a Masterpiece. It's easy to fall into the Pharisaical trap of subtracting value from yourself for areas where you've fallen short. Seeing your own true identity in God's image is an important part of being able to honestly see and communicate with others their value in his eyes. And, "part of his restoration work in you is to help you call out that Masterpiece in others." John believes that most people are painfully aware of their brokenness. They don't need us to open by pointing out where they fall short. Instead, "Since God's image resides in every human, we can learn to see and call out that image shining through the cracks in the mud of sin and brokenness." Look for things a person is doing that are in line with God's teachings. "So many Christians think proving non-Christians wrong is the goal, yet Jesus sought to prove them right wherever they spoke truth." John teaches that you let the love draw them in, rather than letting the law push them out. "Jesus respected the free will of those he encountered, yet invited them into Life, which quenches our deepest thirst in a way that makes muddy water unappealing." His church encourages people who don't yet believe to serve alongside Christ-followers, and raised a strong supporting point for doing this. Jesus chose Judas to use his gifts to serve with him, even though Judas would ultimately betray him completely. It seems Jesus was showing it's worth the risk. Before you assume that John is advocating an "anything goes" grace, know that he balances grace and truth, united in love. "God uses these tools in tandem to restore human beings." John believes, "If you truly are for people, hold good will toward them, highly value them, people can hear all kinds of difficult things because they'll know you are on their side." Jesus didn't ignore or deny the seriousness of our sins, "instead he put the spotlight of grace on the Masterpiece, so people could see why the mud needed removing." He uses three specific examples of Jesus doing this -- with Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, and the woman caught in adultery. "The reason Jesus wants his followers to be unshockable has nothing to do with hating sin or not. It has to do with seeing sin for what it is -- it's foreign matter. Sin is not our true identity -- that's the whole problem. We need to help people identify with God's image in them." The actions John recommends are freeing in a way. They make the whole process of sharing faith a positive one for all parties and much less stressful. What he shows both in the Bible and today of God's lovingkindness drawing people in and making them want to change is exciting and natural. I'm looking forward to practicing it!
Having known John Burke for more than a decade, I know he really values life-change in real people and having a solid understanding of Scripture. This book delivers healthy doses of both of those in story form: stories of real people (messy people like your neighbor, coworker, or even yourself) and Gospel-based stories of real people of Jesus' day. The book is divided into two parts, which I'll cover differently. Part 1 attempts to help Christians evaluate whether their attitude towards others is more in line with how Jesus acted or how the Pharisees acted. Focusing on a study of how Jesus interacted (as recorded in the Gospels) and illustrated by a healthy dose of stories of real people of Gateway Church & elsewhere, Burke seeks to help Christians reflect on their own attitudes. Using the example of finding an old-master painting caked in mud, the book helps us realize that our view of others is often obscured by their outward traits, rather than seeing inside to reflect the Image of God. Part 1 on it's own deserves about 4.5 stars, not quite perfect due to two small criticisms. First, the chapters seem repetitious. Second, it can feel that the stories focus too much on the sensational (drugs, sexual issues, etc.) rather than less-obvious "mud" that still gets in the way of seeing God at work in others (workaholism, perfectionism, etc.). Overall, those are small complaints and Part 1 would be a worthwhile read for most Christians I know. If you're a Christian wondering why your well-intentioned evangelism attempts aren't that fruitful, why non-Christians don't seem to relate to you, or if you're otherwise prompted to honestly consider your own attitude towards others, the book is a worthwhile (and relatively easy) read. Discussion questions closing each chapter (as well as supplemental resources available online) make this really applicable to Small Groups, too. Part 2 might be described as "So, what do I do about it?" Here, Burke seeks to inspire the reader that the solution isn't limited to church staff but can be implemented by "ordinary, imperfect Christians." Using stories largely from his own life & people at Gateway Church, Burke outlines how the reader could start a Network of like-minded individuals committed to uncovering the mud and seeing the masterpiece in the world around them through parties, serving, and other activities. Later chapters outline a few details of what a Network does as well as some changes that could be made to an existing church's Sunday service to work better with this Network idea. On it's own, I'd give Part 2 about 3.5 stars largely because the solution focuses so much on Networks (yet there have been people combating the Mud & the Masterpiece problem for centuries in other ways). Also, I think it's impossible to give enough instruction on how to start a Network (or really... how to keep one going once things get messy... which they will!) in a few short chapters. Finally, while the stories & Scripture references continue, they feel a bit less normative than in Part 1. Overall, I think this is a solid book that will help the open-hearted reader honestly consider how he or she sees others. It's also inspirational to prompt change in how we live and "do" church. Despite a few small criticisms, I found it to be motivational in how I interact with my neighbors, even though I've been on the front-lines of these ideas for so many years!
"Survey Says...We just conducted a national survey of American Christians based on a study I did comparing the attitudes and actions of Jesus with those of the religious Pharisees. Survey says? 86% of all Christians are more like the Pharisees in either attitude, action, or both. Before you say, "Not me," let me give you a few of the discoveries I explore in Mud and the Masterpiece. Because I'm convinced there are many shades of gray between being Christ-like and subtly Pharisaical." John Burke I moved to Miami a little over a year ago to start a ministry for the poor and to plant a church. One startling statistic that we learned was that only 3% of the population in the greater Miami area go to church. That means 97% of the people don't. That statistic resonates every day for us. We keep asking ourselves why. I believe that this book helps to really uncover the reasons why so many don't want to go to church or have anything to do with God, but even better helps to unpack what we can do about it! I really believe this book is bringing a message for the church today. A message we desperately need to not just hear, but also to be living out! What I love about this book is it gives us steps to follow and thought provoking questions to answer and ideas on how to live out what we are learning. John has done such an amazing job communicating God's heart for us and others through a candid look at the Life of Jesus in The Gospels. It is a must read for Christians today!