About Getting Jesus Wrong

Getting Jesus Wrong (New Growth Press, February 2017)

Jesus is not a life coach, a movement leader, a cultural visionary, or a blessing dispenser—but you might not know that by listening to many Christians talk about their faith.

Feel-good slogans promote a caricatured Jesus made in our own image who cannot save us and leave us feeling guilty for not saving ourselves. Following the wrong Jesus disappoints us and produces anxiety, pride, and despair.

The first half of Getting Jesus Wrong recounts pastor and author Matt Johnson’s personal encounters with a string of false saviors—false saviors that many, especially young adults, will recognize. Johnson’s humor and transparency in recounting his own painful experiences will appeal to those who have tried a “brand” of Christianity and found it lacking.

The truth is, we all want something from Jesus. Some are just hoping for a little help to get through life—a new direction, a purpose that will get us up in the morning, an exercise plan, a way to get organized. But that approach to Jesus doesn’t result in real faith or love.

Whether we’ve followed a false Jesus or attempted to coopt the real Jesus, Getting Jesus Wrong ultimately offers us hope because it helps us see Jesus as he is. Getting Jesus Wrong shows that the message of the Bible is about Jesus coming to us as we are—which is good news for exhausted and disillusioned disciples. It shows us that getting Jesus right means a whole new way of thinking (the way up is down) and a whole new way of life (daily dependence on the one who knows the beginning from the end). Getting Jesus right gives us more than spiritual vitamins or a blueprint for living; it gives us a full, rich life spent exploring the depths of gospel love together.

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My Review

I loved Getting Jesus Wrong. I laughed in one moment, and was convicted in the next; Johnson’s writing style is refreshing, frank, honest, and Bible-based, what I picture C.S. Lewis might be in the present day.

I remember buying John Calvin’s Institutes once, (too) quickly selling it back to a used bookstore because I was daunted by its language and heaviness. Institutes in present-day English for $200, please, Alex?

Johnson’s writing is thankfully not like that; he makes theology approachable and understandable. I often felt while reading GJW that I was sitting across from him at Starbucks with a cup of coffee, or even at one of his Sunday services – it was that comfortable. Don’t get me wrong; GJW will convict the reader like nobody’s business. It is, though, a welcome conviction – much like Aslan ripping the dragon scales off Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Getting Jesus Wrong blessedly understates stories, as well. Johnson and I both hail from Seattle, and the city is not so big that I hadn’t heard in the news some of what he referred to. However, he addressed the situations gracefully, without finger-pointing, naming names, or gossiping. Same goes for those he disagrees with theologically; he presents his arguments in such a fashion that you can’t help but nod in agreement. He doesn’t seek to glorify himself or his position, or hang out to dry those in disagreement, but constantly seeks Christ first and foremost.

I know I walk away changed as a result of reading GJW. Definitely recommended, no matter where you are in your walk with Christ.

I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions are my own.

About the Author

Matt Johnson, author of Getting Jesus WrongMatt Johnson is a husband, father to two little girls, and is an armchair student of theology living in Seattle. He is also a freelance writer and editor. Until recently, Matt spent 7 years as an associate volunteer pastor in counseling and recovery ministry.

Find out more about Matt at https://www.therealmattjohnson.com.