Hello, reader and friend. I’m straying from my usual today with a review of a picture book. I was debating whether to keep the review on Goodreads only or to include it here on my blog. I decided to include it since there are some interesting points to be discussed about the prosperity gospel. Yes, that foreshadows a negative review.
(Also, I realize that I completely skipped posting last Saturday. Maybe you didn’t notice and that’s all fine. But in case you did: sorry!)
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
God’s only son, Jesus, wants you to know that He loves you. He loves you more than you can ever imagine.
He watches over you to make sure you are okay and knew you even before He created you. That’s how special you are to Him.
Won’t you spend some time with Jesus today?
I’ve never reviewed a picture book before. However, I was approached by email to review this one. As a fair warning, this is not a happy review. That said, here are my honest thoughts:
A sad 1/5 stars for Jesus Loves You, by Christine Topjian. According to the Goodreads star system, that means I “did not like it.” Unfortunately for the author and anyone else who has put time and effort into creating this book, that would be an accurate assessment. I’m still not sure if it is meant for children or adults.
Being a picture book, Jesus Loves You was a quick read. Even as I read the words, I kept thinking it was a prime example of the “prosperity gospel,” the me-centered message that life is all about us and our good times (or our not-so-good times), and how Jesus loves us through them all. Jesus’ unconditional love is true, but what about our loving Him? Indeed, God is faithful even when we are not, but a one-sided “relationship” with God is not the kind that I want to read about nor is it the kind I want to live out.
I think that Jesus Loves You is a missed opportunity. Jesus wants so much more than to stand over our shoulder watching us live our lives and loving us through it. In fact, right now He is not standing by us, but is in heaven preparing places for us! (And the Holy Spirit is with us that we might not be left as orphans.) The glorious news is that He is eternally-minded. On the contrary, this book centers around temporal, worldly events. I don’t mean to belittle experiences that people go through – neither those that are painful nor those that are joyous. But where in Jesus Loves You is the part where the man believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord? Where is the part where he declares it with his mouth? Where is the part where he makes a public profession of faith through baptism? Where is the part where he seeks God’s will for his life’s direction? Where is the part where he loves Jesus back?
The book mentions that Jesus wants to share in our life. But what about our sharing in His life? What about our knowing the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings? What about our joining in with the work of God the Father and being co-workers with Christ to advance His Kingdom? What about the harvest of lost souls that is plentiful? What about the great commission? Rather, this book shows someone who happily settles in the American lifestyle, who – if I dare say it – conforms to the pattern of this world.
A friend of mine once wrote a blog post about what is – in her opinion – the “hardest thing” that can happen to a Believer in Christ. That thing is that he or she wastes their whole life full of gifts, talents, and potential and only realizes it when it’s too late. They waste it by pursuing earthly accomplishments and successes. I fear that may have been the story of the man in this book.
All that said, here are two small things – disclaimers of sorts – that Jesus Loves You has going for it. I don’t think they redeem the book, but I do think they’re worth mentioning: (1) the book “admits” that God disciplines us and correctly likens His discipline to the discipline of loving parents and (2) the book mentions the choice to raise a Christian family as the only “eternal milestone.”
To summarize, I did not like Jesus Loves You, by Christine Topjian. I think it propagates a false gospel and I do not recommend it.
A NOTE ON CONTENT
- Violence: There is no violence.
- Romance: “Cute girls,” a first kiss, a wedding
- Magic: There is no magic.
- Language: “I hate you.”
Based on my description of the Jesus Loves You, do you think advocates the prosperity gospel? Or do you think I’m being too judgemental? What are your thoughts on the prosperity gospel?
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.