Wasabi Gospel: The Startling Message of Jesus

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Have you ever eaten wasabi? That dainty green blob on your sushi plate may look pretty tame, but take a taste--or even a whiff--and you'll find that little dollop packs a powerful punch to your senses!

Jesus also looks pretty innocuous at first glance. He's the Good Shepherd, after all, the Prince of Peace. "Love your neighbor," he says. "Forgive others." If we take a closer look at those red-lettered words, however, we'll find that some of the...

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Wasabi Gospel: The Startling Message of Jesus

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Have you ever eaten wasabi? That dainty green blob on your sushi plate may look pretty tame, but take a taste--or even a whiff--and you'll find that little dollop packs a powerful punch to your senses!

Jesus also looks pretty innocuous at first glance. He's the Good Shepherd, after all, the Prince of Peace. "Love your neighbor," he says. "Forgive others." If we take a closer look at those red-lettered words, however, we'll find that some of the most tame and sappy-sounding things Jesus said actually pack the most punch.

Wasabi Gospel brings seven well-known gospel passages to life, unpacking their real significance and exploring what life would really look like if we lived out those seemingly-subtle commands of Christ. Jesus' words were radical for his audience and still are for us today, giving us a metaphorical punch to the gut and challenging us to the depths of our souls to change the way we live, love, and look at the world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426700507
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2009
  • Pages: 142
  • Sales rank: 506,629
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Shawn Wood is the Experiences Pastor and a Teaching Pastor at Seacoast Church, a trendsetting multi-site church with thirteen campuses across South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and on the web. Seacoast is ranked among the top ten most innovative churches and the top ten most influential churches, as well as in the top 100 fastest-growing churches in America. He is the author of 200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One and Wasabi Gospel. You can find out more about Shawn on his blog at www.shawnsblogspot.com.
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First Chapter

Wasabi Gospel

The Startling Message of Jesus
By Shawn Wood

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2009 The United Methodist Publishing House
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4267-0050-7

Chapter One

God, I'll Take the Mercy, but Give the Idiot Who Cut Me Off in Traffic Justice

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

I was minding my own business. I really was.

I had been assigned to teach on a pretty familiar scripture in our study of the Sermon on the Mount. It was a passage that I had read a million times.

It was then that I had a wasabi moment. A scripture that seemed so disarmingly cute and benign exploded in my spiritual stomach. It was as if Jesus' words slapped me in the face. I know for some of you that may seem a little harsh, but when you are as stubborn as I am you need to get slapped in the face every now and then.

Here is the verse that rocked me:

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7

It's a little verse—ten words long, simple enough for even a fifth grader to understand. And although it's hard for those who know me best to believe, I am smarter than a fifth grader. I understood this verse, but as Mark Twain said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

This mercy statement is one of those. It sounds so nice. I think I had always believed that all that Jesus was saying was, "Be nice and help people and, if you do, you will be helped too" (Shawn Revised Version).

Now that's an easy statement. That's a butter statement—easy to swallow, tastes good going down, and makes you fat and happy.

I like butter statements. I like the teachings of Jesus being churned down to an easy-to-swallow action step that I can add to the top of my already fat life as a spiritual topping. I guess sometimes I just don't like getting slapped with the truth of what Jesus is really saying.

But what I read was not butter. It was wasabi. Here is what I think that Jesus is really saying: "When someone hurts you in the worst kind of way, and when they owe you more than they could ever pay back, and even when they show no hint of being at all sorry—let them off the hook. You know why? Because that is what I did for you" (Shawn's Better Revised Version).

Do What?

Do you ever have that reaction when you read scripture? "Do what?"

As soon as my oldest child, Isabelle, was able to talk, she became the "Do what?" queen. Anytime she walked into a room and saw anything at all different than she expected (and she has her mom's OCD, so this happens pretty often) she would say in her perfect little Southern drawl, "Doooo whaaaat?" That's the reaction I had as Jesus' slap to the face and subsequent punch to the gut began to sink in. This is not the Jesus I had in mind.

I often find that when I read scripture I expect to see words that support ideas and beliefs I already hold. Wouldn't it be nice if everything in scripture were to line up just like we need it to? Like God wrote the Bible to confirm to us that we are indeed as righteous as think we are? If you are like me, you want to get a pat on the back when you forgive the forgivable. But I reserve the right to be able to hate people that hate me, love people that love me, take revenge on, those that I want revenge on, and hold a grudge against anyone who hurts me or anyone I know (or at least anyone I like—hurt my enemies all you want). That may sound selfish to you (and it is), but many times it's the truth for me, and I'm betting for some of you too.

Then I realized that I had to teach about this text the following weekend. That is a difficult place to be. I have a long-standing rule against lying when I preach. So, in an attempt not to get myself struck by lightning, I read over and over the statement above and asked myself the hardest question that someone can ask themselves when studying the Bible: "How can I live this out?" It was a time of letting the Bible read me a little rather than me just reading the Bible. Those are usually some very cool times.

Suddenly, God placed a name in my mind. It was the name of someone who had hurt me and many people whom I love very much in the worst kind of way. This person took advantage of a member of my family. This person destroyed people's lives and as I watched this person feel seemingly no remorse nor make any amends, I had to be honest. Not only did I not want to give this person mercy and forgiveness, I wanted to hurt this person back.

Have you ever been there? Many of you are probably there right now in your life. You are a Christ-follower and in 99 percent of your life you are striving to serve Jesus. You are taking next steps to get closer to him; you are growing your marriage; you are becoming a great parent; you are striving to be a great friend. All is well.

But there is that one area.

You know the area.

The area that you just let sit in the corner of your soul and it's dark, and it's neglected—that's the area that God is concerned with. It's also often the hardest part of our life for us to handle.

Right now some of you are experiencing some of the Holy Spirit poking and prodding that I was experiencing. With that last prod now I am thinking to myself that I really meant that whole "how can I apply this to my life?" thing as a rhetorical question to God. You cannot possibly mean that he deserves my mercy? I started making a list in my mind of all of the people I had forgiven, of all of the good will I had shown to others, of all of the areas of my life that were good to go to try and tip the scales of my justice and allow me to continue to hate this individual a little longer.

I have to admit that I have not learned much from forgiveness and mercy by actually living it out on my own. I am not very good at it. I think I inherited the ability to hold a grudge genetically or something. I am a true Southerner; we hold grudges pretty well.

But there have been people in my life who have gone before me who I have seen turn the other cheek, even when they could have won the battle. I have tried my best to learn from them and watch the way that they have responded to their enemies.

I remember watching as my grandfather consistently spoke highly of a man who had mistreated him and lied to him about the promises of a business deal, only to go another direction after my grandfather had turned down other offers. This was a life-changing lie that I witnessed when I was a young boy. But my grandfather never spoke a bad word about his offenders. In fact, I only saw him heap praises on them. I also watched him die never having received restitution or payment for that wrong. You know what I learned? It was not on his mind and never affected his life because he had let it go a long time ago.

A very successful friend of mine has received a chorus of unfair public attacks on his character. These attacks come from people who do not know him personally. Through some of the most violent assaults,

I have seen him consistently respond with dignity and character as he continues to forgive and grant mercy. As I watch how this wise man handles this, I ask myself how I am going to get to that place.

Because I, on the other hand, still have not forgiven the idiot who cut me off in traffic last week (evidenced by the fact that I just called him an idiot). I mean, come on, who does that? I drive a large SUV, and I could squash you. (See? The bitterness is still there.)

I always want mercy for myself, of course. I give that obligatory wave and smile when I cut you off in traffic, because of course when I do it it's an accident, but for you I want some straight up Old Testament, death match, fire-and-brimstone justice!

Forgiveness to a Whole Nutha Level

How do we get to the place where we can be merciful even to those who show us no mercy? How do we live out Jesus' command in our lives?

The first step is to admit our selfish desire for vengeance and call it what it is: sin. I don't want to spoil the ending for you, but we are going to be asked to do that a lot in this book.

As long as we make excuses for why we can't, won't, or just are not ready to forgive someone, we are just making excuses for continuing to sin. As we take this step we begin to move through several levels of forgiveness that are a part of the journey toward Christ-centered living.


Excerpted from Wasabi Gospel by Shawn Wood Copyright © 2009 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2012

    Highly recommend this book. Very inspirational.

    I enjoyed the interchange between Laura and Shawn in his book. Laura could have easily been a character from my life, and even a little of me in her feelings. Shawn Wood opened up new meaning to the words that I have cherished for so many years. I have a deeper understanding of what is meant, and how they still apply for today's world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2013

    Wasabi dojo


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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2012


    Hey if annyones here.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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