Unless you’re living under a rock (or you’re one of those troll/rock people in Frozen), you’re probably aware that our world is kind of a hot mess. From the shooting in Ferguson and persecuted families in Iraq, from Ebola outbreaks and fighting in Gaza, I can’t seem to read a newspaper or flip open my laptop or turn on a TV without my heart dropping, shattering into a million pieces. I want it all to go away. I want to pull the covers over my eyes. I want to pretend it’s not there.
But it is there. And I have this reminder of it — this ache in my chest that won’t disappear. When tough stuff bubbles up, we don’t often see the best in people rise to the surface. Spend a few minutes on social media or Heaven forbid read news article comments and we see words written with vitriol, smeared with anger. There’s a lot of ugly, even (and sometimes, especially) from those who claim Jesus.
While there’s a part of me that wants to stuff everything down and pretend it isn’t real, it is. This world of ours is weeping and it affects me deeply and greatly because I’m a child of God and if this messy stuff matters to Him (and it does), then it must matter to me. I just don’t see another way. So I will continue to talk about things that make some of us shift in our seats. I will continue to ask questions and most importantly I will continue to use my head and my heart and my hands to serve others, even when I feel alone.
There’s this trick that Satan likes to pull. Maybe he’s done this to you, too: He likes to make us feel like we’re all alone. Lately, I’m having these mirages where I’m the only girl on the block weighed down by the world. Like the single flame who feels angry at injustice and saddened by apathy. What a twisted joke! That isolated spot is the most dangerous place to stand, because it’s not real and the only goal that place has is to stomp out your light, tie up your hands and feet, and crush your heart. (Ack, I have a flair for the dramatics. I know. We are so close to something not so sad and utterly depressing. KEEP READING!)
There have been and will continue to be people who plow through and pave the way to move forward. Because there’s a hope deeper than the lowest valley, a joy lighter than the heaviest burden.
I’m thankful for leaders like Jen Hatmaker, whose book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity, was like this giant hug that reminded me I’m not in this alone.
Her brave words and real-life stories put words to the tension I’ve been carrying.
As you read Interrupted, don’t you dare identify with the message but feel alone. Because you are so not. There are so many of us bearing the same weight, daring to become new wineskins for the gospel in our generation. Something beautiful and thrilling is happening. A sense of global solidarity is taking the church to incredible reaches, connecting people across culture and country and race—assuring us we belong to one another, and God loves this broken world more than we dared ever hope, and mercy shall extend further than we ever thought possible, and this life is more fulfilling than wasting away in a church pew, and we are in this race together … so let’s run it. (Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted)
Because I’m me, I read books like Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity when I’m on vacation. So many times I was shouting “Jonny! Jonny! Did you know?” or “Listen to this!” or “She says the same thing we do!” and turning whole pages yellow with my hi-liter. I’ve been a fan of Jen for awhile. (Solid over-sharer, has adopted + bio kids, married to a pastor…what’s not to love?)
She wrote Interrupted five years ago to document her + her husband’s journey out of the comforts of cultural christianity (Jen calls it anemic faith) and into the trenches of taking Jesus at His word (yes, there’s a difference). She’s re-releasing the book with expanded content this year. I’m thankful to have been one of the many bloggers who got to join Jen on this online book tour. I really feel like she was talking to me. That’s probably the first time I’ve ever felt that way reading something. (She just…gets me.)
If you are plagued with tension or discontent or a nagging sense that there must be more—that there has to be a faith somewhere that rings true and hopeful and gracious, a faith other than this mean, ugly, partisan, judgmental, self-indulgent version of Christianity, which has to be total bunk—then get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars. God has blessed you with this inner conflict. He isn’t leaving you in complacency and boredom to check boxes and do church. He has enlisted you in the cause of your generation and is calling you forward. You lucky thing. You will not be left and lost, wondering what all the fuss is about, wishing things would never change. (Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted)
Here’s the deal: For those of you are like me and have been feeling the inkling that making there is more to life than religious games, empty promises, and cultural Christianity, get this book.
For those of you who aren’t feeling that way and her words make you feel a little itchy? Get this book.
EVERYBODY, HIDE YOUR KIDS, HIDE YOUR WIVES, AND GET THIS BOOK.
I do have all the feels about this book because I believe it captures the heart of Jesus and reflects His all-encompassing light into the dark corners and hidden crevices of American Christianity. This is not a book just for young women. It’s a book for grandpas and college freshman and empty nesters and everyone in between.
It’s written with humility and humor and heaping amounts of truth, research, and scripture. I can’t even start to tell you about the rich content because each chapter could be a blog post and then I’d be writing 40+ posts about this book and you’d all get sick of me. (But can I tell you one of my favorite chapters? “Desiring, Doing, and Remembering” — it blew my mind and made me cry…so, go read it. Her teaching on mercy and communion? Still thinking about it.)
Jen writes that when we truly walk in step with Jesus, usually that means stepping down the ladders to stand alongside those at the bottom. “I’ve discovered there are more than two thousand verses involving poverty, physical oppression and justice…,” she writes. Sometimes, and by sometimes I mean usually (always?), we’re called sacrificing what the world says is successful and safe and good. Lest we chase after the prosperity gospel.
The very comforts the American dream and American Christianity hold out to us are the same ones we must abandon without looking back, daring to trust that a Savior who had no place to lay His head might have the slightest idea what He was talking about. We must trust that He would never lead us astray, although you might find yourself questioning tenets that once held your sweet little life together. And that will hurt and people will probably criticize it and you might cry. (Kayla’s emphasis because YES, THIS.) … We can follow our Jesus to every dark, scary, broken place He just insists on going, determined to heal and restore people, because HE is a good Savior and we can trust Him. And as it turns out, as soon as we are willing to be the last, we actually become the first. (Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted)
Reading this book coincided with a sermon series our church is doing in the book of James which coincided with all the terrible local and worldwide news and I feel this stirring inside my soul.
This is how Jen puts it:
God shifted our story, we faced a quick progression: He first captured our minds — convicting us of apathy and opening our eyes to human suffering. Then He seized our hears — instilling desire for life and service at the bottom. And quickly thereafter was the call to our hands: Get moving. Because, as James basically said, if all we do is talk theology and pat the forsaken on the head with a hearty “Best of luck with that need!” what good is it? (See James 2:16). (Jen Hatmaker, Interrupted.)
We have abundant hope in the future and when we take Jesus at His word and start living like people of the promise, we also have glimpses of the very Kingdom Jesus talked about, right here, right now. We can trust that Jesus meant every word he said. Every word.
Can you believe it?
Please read this book so we can talk about this stuff. (I mean, we can totally talk about all the things without this book, but it gives a good framework for some great discussion.) I really want to and I really believe that we can talk about hard things because we become stronger and, more importantly, more Christ-like, when join God in his redemptive work of reconciling the world unto Himself.
This book isn’t about guilt or shame or negatively tearing down the Church. Absolutely not. It’s about building up the Church for Kingdom change, fueled by the scandalous grace, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ. It’s not about working your way for Jesus to love you more, but about freedom and joy and rest that comes when we let God change us into the changed people of the cross. The people we were always meant to become.
I don’t want to do this, but I’m giving away this book to someone who promises to read it and talk about it with me. The book has folded pages and highlighted passages and almost fell into the lake, but if you want it, you can have it.
Leave a comment below to be entered to win Interrupted, and when I’m finished (I have a few more chapters to go and I’m not giving it up without totally finishing!), I’ll send it (or, if you’re local, invite myself over to my house and you can serve me coffee and we can talk about all the feels right then and there) your way!
What would you struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use your life to make a difference in the world? In your community, what would make the Good News seem good again to people watching the church?
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