I’m really enjoying Rubel Shelly’s latest book, I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian…and I Liked Him Better Then. Not because he’s saying something I’ve never heard before, but because I see this book as another important marker on the path Rubel has been guiding me down with his writing for the past twenty years.
The first Rubel Shelly book I ever read was his groundbreaking I Just Want to be a Christian. It was THE BOOK that broke me out of the exclusive, sectarian version of the Christian faith in which I was raised. Rubel taught me, and so many others like me, that being a Christian was more about following Jesus than belonging to the “right” church. He helped me see that Jesus is bigger and better than the “Church of Christ.”
In “I Knew Jesus Before He Was a Christian,” Rubel follows the same trajectory by challenging us to see the difference between Jesus and today’s Christianity that makes headlines for all the wrong reasons. Jesus is bigger and better than “Christianity” as we know it.
I find the two titles placed side by side to be amusing. The same guy who once wrote “I Just Want to Be a Christian” has now written “I Knew Jesus Before He Was A Christian. . .and I Liked Him Better Then.”
What happened between these two titles?
I’d say it was twenty-five years of taking the life and teachings of Jesus seriously.
As long as Rubel keeps paying attention to Jesus, I’ll keep paying attention to what Rubel writes.