I struggled with this book. It was like a relationship: the beginning hooked me and I was excited about it, then the middle frustrated me and I wanted to dump it. But I held onto the end, which was probably the best part of all (I especially found meaningful the chapter "A House of Figs).
In Jesus Manifesto, Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola have one goal: to "restore the supremacy and sovereignty of Christ." They ask the question Jesus asked of his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and attempt to give us a broader view of Christ. They believe that the Church has forsaken the love of Christ for programs and ideologies. They take issue with churches who have focused on leadership and justice and morality instead of Christ and have become occupied with anything other than Christ first. They claim that the church has attempted to take away the mystery of Christ and has tried to reduce Him to something less than what He is.
I agree with them that we should discern whether or not a church is focused on Christ or on political correctness. However, I feel that their judgements were sweeping, and at times that they were splitting hairs. For instance they take issue with the phrase "imitators of Christ" since it is impossible for us to actually live the sinless life of Christ without His indwelling spirit and remind us that we ARE Christ because we are part of His body. I understand the distinction, but I felt that they were trying to say something new . . . . that isn't new. And occasionally I disagreed with how they stretched the use of a verse to make a point.
However, all in all, I've decided I like the book. The more I think about some of their points, the more I realize how right they are. We do need to point to Christ as the center and the circumference of all life. As Christ-followers we should be occupied with Christ and everything we do should flow from that obsession with Him, and unfortunately, many churches and Christians are missing that Christ-living and choosing meaningless pursuits of morality alone or service alone or programs alone. It is an easy trap to fall into.
"There is one reason why a Christian would not be absolutely occupied and consumed with Christ. That person's eyes have not been opened to see his greatness," was one thought I've pondered most. I do believe that much of this book challenged me to be occupied with Christ -- to search for Him in all of life, to look for His unlimited majesty and see His greatness, and to allow Him to work through me. For that reason, it is worth reading.
*I receieved a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for an honest review through BookSneeze.