In college, my Christian friends and I had an odd superstition that if we didn’t hear a particular biblical directive, we were somehow exempt from it. This plausible deniability gave us responsibility immunity. We thought we could get away with choosing, through avoidance, which parts of our life of faith were palatable at the moment. I’m sure we fully intended to embrace the whole gospel at some point, but some of the harder parts we opted to save for another day in favor of an “easier” faith. But God doesn’t let us pick and choose and he doesn’t let us stay comfortable forever.
If God allowed plausible deniability, Jen Hatmaker’s Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity would come with a warning label: “Do not read if you are comfortable in your faith and want to remain that way.” But if even a little part of you wants more in your faith, if you hunger for an authentic and bold faith, if you have a sense your life is too safe, definitely read Interrupted. And if you like being comfortable, read it anyway.
Jen Hatmaker wrote Interrupted six years ago. Lucky for us, she has totally revised and expanded the book, which was just re-released. It’s about how God interrupted Jen and her husband Brandon. They were not faith slouches to begin with. Pastors. Bible study leaders. Writers of Christian things. They were people who were very active with their God stuff. But God started messing with them. Interrupted them. He took them out of their comfort zone and challenged them to, radical thought, actually live the gospel beyond all the Christiany things they were doing. Especially, take care of the poor and oppressed and take the gospel to them.
Something happens when you go “all in” with your faith. I was raised in church and responded to countless altar calls; I’ve always had a strong sense how much I need Jesus and how inadequate I am. But I tried to keep my faith contained. Nice. Neat. Manageable. Jen Hatmaker describes it as a faith that is kind to waitresses and clerks. But is that all Jesus asks of us?
“Until we are all compelled and contributing, we’re settling for an anemic faith and a church that robs Christ followers of their vitality and repels the rest of the world.”
When I lost my marriage, my financial security, my identity, my future as I had planned it, my faith became real as I experienced supernatural peace, heard God’s whispers to my heart, felt his nudge in my soul. When I finally admitted I was broken, he was there to put me back together.
God did not feel compelled to put me back the way I was. Thankfully. And he didn’t fill me with the things I thought I needed to be whole. It has been a topsy-turvy, often “what the heck?” process.
And in the midst of this fixing and filling in drops, Interrupted. The squirmy, uncomfortable feelings that come when I read this book are familiar. God demands more from us than to try to be good. Throughout the Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the command to feed the poor and help the oppressed. And love your neighbor as yourself.
“Jesus didn’t have much patience with believers who attempted to limit the scope of ‘who my neighbor is’ to the fewest possible people.”
Jen Hatmaker pokes holes in our justifications, our American Christianity, our political persuasions.
“We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”
If you’re familiar with Jen’s blog, www.jenhatmaker.com, then you will recognize her bold, conversational, and funny writing style. But she’ll also challenge you that “we are only qualified to administer mercy, not judgment” and to make your life a mission.
“We have an innate craving to live on mission with God in the dangerous, exciting world.”
I loved this book…and I think you will too!
To celebrate my first book review I am giving away a copy of Interrupted! I would love everybody to enter…and please share my blog so your friends can enter too! The winner will be picked randomly by Rafflecoptor on Friday, August 22, 2014.