If Jesus Were 'Wild At Heart': The Gospels Reimagined
Annually around Father’s Day John Edlredge’s bestselling book Wild At Heart makes a resurgence. And so, last week, while browsing a local Christian bookstore, my wife asked what I knew about it. “Honestly,” I told her, “not much.” So we picked up a copy and read the introduction aloud. What we discovered was, well, hilarious. For one of Eldredge’s primary purposes is to rescue manly masculinity from the suffocating strictures and pressure to be a nice guy.
Here’s the book’s blurb, from Amazon: “God designed men to be dangerous…Simply look at the dreams and desires written in the heart of every boy: To be a hero, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk. Sadly, most men abandon those dreams and desires aided by a Christianity that feels like nothing more than pressure to be a ‘nice guy.’ It is no wonder that many men avoid church, and those who go are often passive and bored to death. In this provocative book, John Eldredge gives women a look inside the true heart of a man and gives men permission to be what God designed them to be: dangerous, passionate, alive, and free.”
Some of the highlights, in case you couldn’t stomach that drivel: God designed men to be dangerous and wild. They need to take risks, in order to live freely and feel truly alive. Passivity is unmanly. True masculinity is active and adventurous. Men shouldn’t feel the need to be nice.
Now, I’m not interested in mounting a theological critique of Wild At Heart, for at least two reasons. Firstly, it can hardly be called a theological (or even Christian) book. Secondly, many others have beaten me to the punch. So, instead, I’m going to rewrite a few Gospel passages, imagining what Jesus would have been like if he were ‘wild at heart.’
Jesus in Galilee (Mark 1:35-36)
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus departed and went out to a desolate place, where he reconnected with the wild. 36 Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And Jesus said to them, “Let us stay away from the towns, so that our essential masculinity isn’t deformed.” 39 And he travelled through the wilderness of Galilee, taking many risks in the form of various outdoor activities.
Calming of the waves (Mark 4:35-40)
35 When evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us sail. For on the water we are truly free.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the it was already filling. 38 But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he rebuked them saying, “The closer you are to death the more alive you feel! 40 Why are you so afraid? Have you still no sense of adventure. No desire for danger?”
Come to Me (Matthew 11:28-29)
28 “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you a slap in the face. 29 Man up, and learn from me, for I am strong, wild at heart, and certainly not nice. You will only find rest for yourselves in adventure and aggression.”
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-38)
**37 “How I would have gathered you together, the way a man gathers his bros around the braai to talk sport, but you were soft and unwilling. **38 See, your true male desire for danger has been abandoned.
The Death of Lazarus (John 11:33-36)
33 When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was slightly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you buried Lazarus?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus didn’t weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how manly and courageous he is!”