From my reading of The Bad Habits of Jesus it’s evident that Leonard Sweet is an experienced writer as well as a very creative person. Best selling author and international speaker, a unique style is definitely detected right off the bat as Sweet takes us through Matthew-John to examine Jesus’ bad (=unusual to both secular and sacred standards) habits. Ultimately this book labors to bring to the surface aspects of who Jesus was and what he did that might otherwise be forgotten, zoning in on Jesus himself rather than rushing past the pages of the gospels.
The book is a challenge to Christians to not overlook radical implications of Jesus’ words and ministry and to be reminded of these “bad habits” and the unorthodoxy (the “unprofessional” nature-one can say) of Jesus.
“Jesus wants us to go the second mile, give the second coat, and maybe even give the second kidney” (p. 30).
Each chapter systematically takes on yet another “bad habit” of Jesus and does so in a simplistic manner. In one chapter (speaking of Jesus’ “wastefulness”) Sweet writes that
“We, too, like Jesus, must cultivate the habit of being, in everything we do, wasteful in mercy, extraordinary in love, and extravagant in worship of Jesus the Christ” (p. 32).
In another chapter (focusing on Jesus’ unprofessional tardiness) he writes that
“Though Jesus had the “nasty habit of…disappearing” (p. 43), he didn’t do so “to avoid people so much as to be in tune with his Father” (p. 47).
I have heard rumors that Sweet is a very liberal dude. I did not get a hint of that in this reading but found that Sweet (based on this book alone) leans toward conservatism. I actually find the title somewhat misleading as I was expecting a fairly provocative book and didn’t get it.
Sweet posits that Jesus’ going off on those working in the Temple was not about money but due to the fact that “they stole the grandeur away from God by serving the institution rather than God” which is what we do “when we love a denomination more than [we]…love God” and “cherish…traditions more than [we]…cherish [our]…relationship with God” (p. 65).
This new release though very basic proves to be an interesting take on Jesus, though Sweet’s style may take some time getting used to.
Sweet has a huge imagination and it’s seriously a gift. But it seems to get away from him at times as what he’s trying to say seems to get lost in his effort to make words dance around on the page.
This book contains one-liners and phrases which are golden and worthy of quoting. Later in the book I was especially reminded of the high priority Jesus placed on children, which was extremely revolutionary in his day. Sweet described this in a very creative way, using here (and throughout the book) some seriously “sweet” language.
That said, The Bad Habits of Jesus is ultimately lacking in substance (if I’m to be completely honest). I feel that this book can be compared to a skeleton lacking the meat and muscle to form a complete body. It is, still an interesting read with many thought-provoking one-liners and little gems.
In exchange for an honest assessment Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.