Jonathan's book is built on an excellent premise: become fully human in all the ways Jesus was. Unfortunately, the structure of the book built on that premise is rather shaky.
Jonathan starts his book by saying he wants us to know who we really are by coming awake to God and understanding that Jesus is our prototype. Jesus never forgot who He was – beloved by God. “He lived every moment of His life fully convinced of His identity.” (18) What if that were possible for each of us?
The book was off to a good start, but then Jonathan lost me. By about a third of the way into the book I was tired of stories about Jonathan. I do think there is more about Jonathan in this book than there is Jesus. For example, he spends more words writing about his own attempts at going to the wilderness than he does of Jesus being in the wilderness. (Compare p. 57-61 with p. 51-53.) At the end of the book I knew far more about Jonathan (his wedgies at Bible camps, his riding his bicycle, Pentecostal upbringing, etc.) and others involved in his ministry than I did about Jesus.
Sometimes I just didn't get him. “I think most of what you need to know about how life with God works is probably wrapped up in the bittersweet taste of dreams. All the longing and aching for something beautiful that is just out of reach. Sometimes you can touch it and sometimes you can't.” (118-119) What? That's most of what I need to know how life with God works? Poetic words, sure, but give me what the Bible says about life with God!
I am yet still puzzled by how Jesus is our prototype and what we do with that. Jonathan has provided us with lots of stories but with no teaching as to how we really live into the identity of Jesus as our prototype. There is nothing about having the mind of Christ, or what it means to be “in Christ” or to have “Christ in you.” There is nothing about the Spirit at work in you.
I can tell Jonathan loves to talk and write. He is a good communicator. His book reads well and is poetic at times. It is just that he did not do in this book what he said he was going to do at the beginning.
If you enjoy an individual's spiritually “coming of age” story and the stories of authentic followers of Jesus, you'll like this book. If you really want to know what it means to have Jesus as a prototype of being fully human and how to live into that identity, you'll have to go elsewhere.
Go to the book's website to read the first chapter, the Introduction, and to watch a trailer.
There is a four week discussion guide included at the end of the book.
There is a recently released Small Group DVD of this book. It provides video from Jonathan Martin with suggestions for six sessions of discussion. Much of what Jonathan says is directly from the book so one might find repetition if using the book and the DVD for group discussion. Go here to get more information on the DVD.
Jonathan Martin leads Renovatus, a Church for People under Renovation, in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife. He holds degrees from Gardner-Webb University, the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, and Duke University Divinity School. Find out more at http://pastorjonathanmartin.com/
Tyndale house Publishers, 240 pages. See the publisher's product page.
I received a complimentary copy of the book and DVD from the publisher for the purpose of this review.