The new cover for my forthcoming book, Jesus is Better Than You Imagined, has just released (cover posted below). Here’s the premise:
Less than two years ago, I decided to confront the emptiness of a dry, predictable, and rote faith focused on a cardboard God. My encounter with the Divine had largely been limited to sermons and Sunday school lessons, prayers and praise songs. But I began to wonder if I was missing opportunities to experience God in the mundane and everyday, in the surprising and unexpected. Where was the God who showed up in floating axe heads and talking donkeys, in burning bushes and silent nights?
In a moment of desperation, I cried out for God to show up and surprise me, and over the next year, God didn’t disappoint. Through a 60-hour vow of silence in a desert monastery, I experienced Jesus in silence. When a friend dies of a rare disease, I met Jesus in tragedy. Through confronting struggles with my sexuality, I discovered Jesus in honesty. In an anti-Christian-themed bar, I found Jesus in sacrilege. And when I was held at gunpoint by Haitian bandits, I stumbled across Jesus in the impossible.
Along the way, I learned that Christ shows up in unexpected places and ways, but we have to be looking for him. This book is an invitation to discover a Jesus you may never have dreamed of, to throw back the covers on the sleepy faith so many of us follow, and to learn to search for the Holy in your midst. It’s uncomfortably honest and often provocative, but my hope is that it will lead readers to open their hearts to the messy mercy and crazy grace of a sometimes startling God.
“Jonathan Merritt has a gift for naming how things are. To do this well involves an art more delicate than surgery; identifying what does not belong and ought to be removed while still leaving in place all that is healthy and needed for life. It requires a refusal to pretend. And this Jonathan does with a combination of courage and love…Jonathan is a child of the church who speaks without the subcultural accent that so often keeps those of us who speak ‘church’ from sounding fully human, or perhaps from being fully human. In his writing we are reminded above all that Jesus is real, that he cannot be bound by either formulas or expectations.” – John Ortberg, bestselling author of Who Is This Man? (from the foreword)
“Read this book expectantly. It will shatter your misconceptions and help you encounter a God more wonderful than you ever conceived.” – Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker
“Well-written, bold, and honest. This book by my friend Jonathan will no doubt introduce many seekers, skeptics, strugglers, and “saints” to the Jesus they’ve never known but longed to meet–One who gives grace to broken and burned-out people without disclaimers, qualifications, or asterisks.” – Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and author of One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
“This book got me so excited about Jesus that it almost left me winded. If you have ever despaired of the church, or departed from the faith, or know someone who has, there is no better book on the market to illuminate the darkness with lightning strikes of divine presence and power.” – Leonard Sweet, bestselling author and chief contributor to Sermons.com