Review: Jesus Loves You

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!)

Jesus Loves You!Jesus Loves You! by Christine Topjian

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The Blurb

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?

My Review

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.”

Let’s Talk

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.

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8 thoughts on “Review: Jesus Loves You

  1. No, I don’t think you’re being too judgmental. To be honest I think we all have to be on guard with this world, and what people might slap the title
    “Christian” or “Christianity” on.
    Actually last night I was thinking about how we were called to follow Christ – Following being a action – not just living our lives. For a life without Christ is a life un lived.
    I looked up prosperity gospel on the Wikipedia (I’m that person who likes to have all the facts) and I was sadden when I read it. For one thing it said some Christians… This world’s label on Christians isn’t what lines up with the Bible. Anyone can call themselves a Christian… it’s such a misused name. And it said that prosperity gospel was basically “Christians” believing that it’s in God’s will for them to have a good life and wealth and that sickness and poverty are curses to be broken by faith. And it said they view the Bible as a “contract” between humans and God.
    How have people come to this conclusion? It breaks my heart to think of people without Jesus… and that belief is so wrong!
    John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”
    Jesus literally said that we would suffer. And poverty, sickness, etc. they are not curses! They some of the effects our imperfect world has… since the Fall the world hasn’t been perfect.

    We must always be on guard. Because there are false teachers. I’m not saying the author of the book is a false teacher… some people just don’t realize the truth. But we must see if things line up with the Bible. That’s why we need to spend time in God’s Word so that we can tell what is truth and what is false.

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    1. I agree. Anyone can call themselves a Christian regardless of whether or not they live by the Bible (not the Bible as a contract but the Bible as God’s living Word). In doing so, what image does that give of Christianity to the rest of the world? And what does that do to God’s Name and reputation?

      And yes! Jesus does literally say that we will suffer. God also literally says through Paul that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). He says it so plainly that I have to wonder what those who believe in the prosperity gospel would say in response to that verse? How does their whole worldview not fall apart at that point?

      I’m not sure if I would argue that sickness and poverty *aren’t* curses. I don’t see the difference between a curse and the effects of sin in our imperfect world. Honestly, I don’t even have a problem with saying that these are curses to be broken. However, whether they’re to be broken by the power of our faith in this life or whether they’re to be broken by the power of the resurrected Christ when He returns or calls us home… I think there’s a big difference (and just for the record, I believe the second is true). What do you think?

      I’ve recently been reading 1st and 2nd Timothy, and I think that what you said, Sarah, is spot on with what Paul was saying: “we must always be on guard.” Thanks for sharing!

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      1. The first question… I’m not sure. I think if anyone calls them self a Christian then people might be confused by Christianity. But also we need to examine our lives to see how we look to the rest of the world. To see if we’re living Christ like.
        And you can’t pick and chose in the Bible. I think that might be what those people are doing. It’s kind of like picking out the chocolate chips out of chocolate chip cookies. You can’t take it out of context.
        I got the impression that the people who believe in prosperity gospel believed that some people were cursed with sickness and poverty and if they believed in God they would have prosperity and good fortune. I think that those things are affects of the fall… maybe even curses. But I don’t agree that it’s just individually. I got the impression that that’s what they believe. Like if you got cancer you sinned or something like that… not that I completely understand all of that.
        I think those “curses” (if that’s what you want to call them) will be broken after Jesus comes to restore the earth… because then we won’t have sickness, poverty, and etc..

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      2. Amen, Sarah! And what a glorious return it will be. I don’t think we need to try to make the Christian life sound more appealing than it already is (in fact, I think we ought *not* to). We are already more than conquerors through Him who loved us! X)

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  2. I appreciate your honest thoughts, and this book does sound very much like the prosperity gospel worldview. It’s disheartening how so many children’s books are like that, becuase they do have an impact, whether good or bad. The prosperity gospel seems to be becoming more and more prominent, and it’s time we illuminate the truth in ways like you have in this review. Thank you for sharing your honest opinion- I would agree.

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    1. Thanks for the affirmation Emily. I struggle with what is being too critical and what is being true to the *real* gospel. But I’ve been reading 1st and 2nd Timothy recently, which is very relevant. There’s sooo much in there about false teaching… not putting up with sound doctrine, following deceiving spirits, myths and endless genealogies, people eager for money and wandering from the faith, not putting up with sound doctrine but gathering around themselves a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear, and on and on.

      That said, I don’t think there’s *never* hope for these people. Paul said in these same two letters, “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.” May the same thing be said of a number of other “blasphemers” of our day, as many as God has chosen in Him before the creation of the world.

      True what you said about children’s books, too! Indeed, it’s disheartening given that children are such vulnerable young souls! The Lord knows those who are His. May He protect and preserve them as I believe He will!

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  3. Ooh, I was approached to review this book too.. except I said no. But it’s good to read your thoughts on it. I do think your points are valid and worth mentioning – and even more so because this is a children’s book. As adults we can be more discerning when we read, but children are more likely to absorb things without weighing up whether they’re truth, which makes it more dangerous! And these concepts can subconsciously play out in the rest of their lives. (Sorry if it seems like I’m being a little dramatic – I’ve been studying developmental theories and generational thinking patterns, and that’s the first place my mind goes when you discuss this book!)

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    1. Oh, I don’t think you’re being dramatic. (Perhaps other people might think we’re both being dramatic, but I just believe it’s true.) I recently read through Pauls letters to Timothy, all about false teaching, and that’s where *my* mind has kept returning as I think about this book. As much as it might ruffle people’s feathers, I just think that this is a form of false teaching.

      Thanks for your thoughts. 🙂 It’s always lovely to hear from you.

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