Every Saturday I share some notes from a book I just read. To see some past ones, click here. This week’s book is Jesus Is Better than You Imagined by Jonathan Merritt. I read this book in a day, I could not put it down.
Here’s what it covers:
Is the God who created us better than the God we’ve created?
After following Jesus for nearly two decades, Jonathan Merritt decides to confront the emptiness of a faith that has become dry, predictable, and rote. In a moment of desperation, he cries out for God to show up and surprise him, and over the next year, God doesn’t disappoint.
In JESUS IS BETTER THAN YOU IMAGINED, Jonathan shares vulnerable, never-before-shared stories of how he learned to encounter Jesus in unexpected ways. Through a 60-hour vow of silence in a desert monastery, he experiences Jesus in silence. When a friend dies of a rare disease, he sees Jesus in tragedy. Through confronting childhood sexual abuse, Jonathan discovers Jesus in honesty. In an anti-Christian-themed bar, he finds Jesus in sacrilege. And when he’s almost kidnapped in Haiti by armed bandits, he experiences Jesus in the impossible.
Though Merritt finds himself in places he never dreamed of, he doesn’t lose his way. Instead, these experiences force him back to the Bible, where he repeatedly offers fresh, sometimes provocative, interpretations of familiar passages. Along the way, he throws back the covers on the sleepy faith of many Christians, urging them to search for the Holy in their midst.
Pointed and poignant by turns, Jonathan helps readers open their hearts to a mysterious God and a faith that sustains, guides, and most importantly, surprises. His fearlessly honest story invites us all to discover the messy mercy and crazy grace of a sometimes startling Savior.
The book is part faith journey, memoir, theology and questioning all in one. I found myself not being able to put it down and being able to relate to so many of the questions, doubts, hurts and celebrations that Merritt had in his journey. In many ways, it felt like an updated version of Blue Like Jazz.