For the past couple years I have lived with an unsettled feeling about life…about our life. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it but I felt like God was stirring my heart about something. It’s so easy in this day and age to just tolerate everything, get complacent, become apathetic. Forget the reason we were placed on this earth and instead put extra value in our possessions, create false gods, and do whatever we please. Which can be super fun.
Except it’s all so temporary. I started thinking “there HAS to be something more than this”.
I started reading books like 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. Kingdom Journeys by Seth Barnes. Love Does by Bob Goff. I read more Scripture. And the same themes kept arising.
The least. The last. The lonely. The meek. The poor.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God
I realized I was excellent at following the rules. Did great with attending church service, serving in the children’s ministry, volunteering on the dotted line, and more. Don’t get me wrong…all that stuff is great and important. But I was neglecting to actually walk the walk. It was easy to just give money to those in need (which is oftentimes necessary). But did I actually know their names? Did I know their story?
This is where Interrupted comes in.
That unsettled feeling in my stomach? Jen Hatmaker basically put it into words and published it as a book. So I think I should get some of the royalties even though we don’t know each other (but would probably be best friends if we did). She read my mind. I had the privilege of reading this revised and expanded edition of Interrupted and highlighted almost the entire thing. Which is totally the point of highlighting right?
Jen started by saying she had similar unsettling feelings and one day prayed for God to raise in her a holy passion.
And holy passion He did raise.
Jen and her husband prayed a life-altering prayer that led them to plant a church in South Austin. They changed the way they “did” church. In Romans, Paul says we are all the “body of Christ”. The root meaning of the word church (I’ll spare you the Greek) is “an assembly” or “called-out ones”. Church is about the people, not the building. And so often we are so worried about what happens IN the building, AT the building, AROUND the building that we completely forget to consider those that don’t even know about “the building”. Jen and Brandon began serving the last and the least of South Austin. Meeting them where they were and forming meaningful relationships.
Because really, when it comes down to it, we have but one life to live. We don’t get second chances. Jen says, “It won’t suffice to claim good intentions. Saying ‘I meant well’ is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, ‘Oh? Were you serious about all that?”
“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care? Am I moved by the suffering of all nations? Am I even concerned with the homeless guy on the corner? Am I willing to take the Bible at face value and concur that God is obsessed with social justice? I won’t answer one day for how the US government spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq, nor will I get the credit for the general philanthropy of others. It will come down to what I did. What you did. What we did together.” (JH)
Interrupted has caused me to search my heart. Search my motives. Reminded me that people matter. And not just “my” people. ALL people. When all is said and done, most people probably won’t remember exactly which sermon impacted them the most. They will remember the people that lived life with them. That met them where they were and accepted them with the love of Christ. I feel like I lived so many years in judgment of others. Which is truly ridiculous and just exhausting. Thank GOODNESS I can leave the judging up to God. We are all imperfect. We can all be lost. A life in Christ doesn’t promise us relief from ups and downs. But it does promise us a loving, merciful, graceful God that walks alongside us each step of the way.
“Jesus’ point was clear: Don’t get sucked into the game. Be counter cultural. Be the opposite of great. If that means others are ahead of you, so what? If people criticize your method or motive, what difference does it make? If you’re removed from the map of recognition? Good. About time.” (JH)
“If the kingdom of God belongs to the poor, the bottom dwellers, then rich American Christians are going to have the hardest time finding it.” (JH)
I really could fill this post up with quotes from Interrupted. So in the essence of time you should probably just buy the book and read it for yourself. It will wreck you. If you like being comfortable, get ready to be uncomfortable. Jen does an amazing job of encouraging you to look beyond the protective walls we build around ourselves and families and break them down to advocate for those who truly need Jesus.
If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
“If we claim affinity for Christ but turn a blind eye to those He identified Himself with, there is no honor in that. There is no truth in it.” (JH)
Maybe it’s because I’m 30 and rapidly approaching old-age (jokes). But we don’t have time to waste. Challenge yourself to do something for someone beside yourself. Do something uncomfortable. Talk to the homeless person on the corner and learn their name. Take time to serve a meal to someone in need. Be bold in sharing your faith with those you meet. Pray intentionally for God to raise a holy passion in you for those he came to serve.
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
**Check out Jen’s blog this week for other blog link ups. Over 300 of us reviewed the book and I know the rest of the launch team has even better posts!**