Jesus Called. His Voicemail is the Bible.

Let’s play a game! The name of the game is: Jesus or Jesus Calling?

Go through the statements below and decide if you think they were actually said by Jesus in the Bible or if they are from the popular book Jesus Calling. Answers are below, but no cheating!

  1. “My Peace is like a shaft of golden Light shining on you continuously.”
  2. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
  3. “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast in hell.”
  4. “I love you for who you are, not for what you do.”
  5. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
  6. “Relax in My healing Presence.”
  7. “At the end of your life-path is an entrance to heaven. Only I know when you will reach that destination, but I am preparing you for it each step of the way.”
  8. “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
  9. “Come to me in all your neediness, with defenses down and with desire to be blessed.”
  10. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Answers:

  1. Jesus Calling (Feb. 11)
  2. Jesus (Matt. 10: 34-35)
  3. Jesus (Matt. 5:30)
  4. Jesus Calling (March 3)
  5. Jesus (Matt. 4:17)
  6. Jesus Calling (Jan. 2)
  7. Jesus Calling (April 14)
  8. Jesus (Matt. 7:14)
  9. Jesus Calling (Dec. 8)
  10. Jesus (Luke 9:23)

Scoring: 1,000 points if you recognize the stark contrast between the voice of Jesus in the Bible and the voice of Jesus as written by Sarah Young.

Young’s Jesus is shrouded in golden rays of light, and focuses on affirming people, positive thinking, and relaxing in His peaceful presence. Jesus of the Bible, on the other hand, seems to be a rather radical fellow, prone to exaggeration in order to get His urgent message across: you will die in your sins unless you repent, take up your cross, and follow Me.

To be fair, I did pick and choose quotes from both the Bible and Jesus Calling that would enable me to make a point. After all, Jesus is also the gentle Shepherd who comforts those who mourn and binds up the broken hearted. Likewise, as I looked through Jesus Calling I found a few days where she did talk about self-denial and submitting to the authority of God. Unfortunately, however, those days are few and far between, and shrouded in Eastern mysticism with a healthy dose of Western psychology. Which explains why her book has become a huge bestseller and spawned Jesus Calling Bibles, teen versions, and kids versions. On the other hand, if you look at how most people reacted to Jesus’ preaching in the Bible, many turned away and stopped following Him, complaining, “This is a hard saying, who can understand it?” (John 6:60)

Another key indicator that she misrepresented Jesus is that plenty of non-Christians read Jesus Calling and love it. According to 1 Peter 2:8, Jesus is a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” to unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” Why, then, is Jesus Calling so widely popular?

Could it be that it contains neither an accurate representation of Jesus nor the gospel message?

This is what happens when you claim to speak for God, rather than directing people toward what He actually said in the Bible. It’s what happens when you make yourself a mediator between another person and God, which is essentially what she has done with this book. I don’t think true Christians will suffer much hurt from reading it, as long they are feeding themselves from the actual word of God in a Bible-believing community. But if they are, then Jesus Calling will soon seem to be unnecessary and superficial fluff. To non-Christians, however, reading Jesus Calling is like treating a gaping, infected wound with a band-aid. God does not like it when people offer superficial solutions to deep problems. In fact, He punished the prophets for doing this to His people in Israel, saying,

“They have healed the hurt of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, Peace!’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14).

He also warned His people not to listen to those who spoke from their own hearts rather than His words:

“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, ‘The Lord has said, “You shall have peace”: And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.” (Jeremiah 23:16-17)

As I worked on this blog today, the mail arrived with a catalog from the local Christian book store, heralding a sale on all things Jesus Calling. My hope is that this post will cause you to think twice before buying this book for yourself or as a Christmas gift for someone you love.  Don’t let false proclamations of peace render you worthless or falsely secure. Get alone with God by reading the Bible, and see what He has to say without it being filtered through the mind of Sarah Young. Chances are you will find Jesus much more interesting, captivating, dangerous, and satisfying than the redundant and one-dimensional picture of Him in Jesus Calling.

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3 thoughts on “Jesus Called. His Voicemail is the Bible.

  1. Your article should note that you took quotes from the Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for KIDS. So the author and parents, like myself, that are using these devotions to introduce God into their children lives, probably do not want to read to them, “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast in hell.” Children take things more literally and that sounds scary. I’m sure even if you sin today, you don’t think you should hack off a piece of your body still. I think her book is perfect for children. Throughout the book it emphasizes the importance of putting God first, making time for God, doing the right thing; except it tailors it so a child understands. My children love the book so much, they make sure I read it to them every night. When they get a little older, under each devotional is a Bible Scripture reference for them to read and study more in detail.

    • Bianca, I certainly would have noted that, IF I had used the edition for kids. However, I did not–I used the original Jesus Calling, written for adults. If the same quotes are in the kid’s edition, then kudos to Sarah Young for recycling her material and making twice the money!!

      I imagine that Jesus Calling 365 Devotions for Kids is a helpful resource, although I have never read it. My post was geared towards adults using Jesus Calling, not kids. However, I am really glad that you are teaching your kids about Jesus. Whenever I have kids, I hope to do the same. However I do want them to know the real Jesus–who occasionally said scary, divisive, and abrasive things. As it becomes age appropriate, I hope to introduce them to all the words of Scripture and teach them to think for themselves. For example, of course Jesus did not literally mean for us to cut off our hands–he was using exaggeration to teach us to take sin seriously. I think that is definitely a lesson that kids need to learn when they are able to grasp more abstract concepts. It sounds like your kids might not be that old yet, and you are doing well to teach them about Jesus as you are able. I hope we can both grow in grace as we learn how to disciple our kids, never forgetting that

      “ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17

      The same cannot be said of any other book.

      • Thank you for your response. I haven’t read the adult version of Jesus Calling, so I don’t have an opinion on it. In Sarah Young’s prologue in the kid version she did not say her book was a replacement for the Bible. It is a good accompaniment.

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