August 10, 2014

Interrupted and Overwhelmed

I just finished reading Jen Hatmaker's book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity for the second time. This was the new new, expanded version. I felt just as excited and convicted and overwhelmed as I did the first time I read it!

This book is really Jen's personal story of God interrupting her comfortable, affluent life by showing her the needs of the "least of these" around her.  She, her husband, and their three (at the time) children changed jobs, moved, and started a new church whose mission was to love and serve God with their whole hearts and lives out in the real world. (OK, there was more to it than that, but if I typed it here you wouldn't have to read the book!)

The first time I read this book I felt much like Jen, knowing there was more out there than I was doing or experiencing, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  God used her pointing out Isaiah 58 to interrupt my life.  My time in the Word and in prayer should result in more than just me feeling better or knowing more about God, but me being more like God. It should result in action that benefits more than just me or my family.

This time, I read the book after spending this past year working with our church's new Afterschool Adventures program.  We hold this at the income-based apartment complex across the street from the church. I spent a year working with the "least of these" right in my own backyard.  I found myself wanting to shout AMEN to so many of the things she was saying.  While the parents have no problem sending their kids over to church with us for our Wednesday night dinner and Family Quest activities, we can't get those parents to cross the street for anything!  They just won't come to us, we must go to them.  While they live in our backyard, they really do live in a whole different world than we can even imagine.

I was especially drawn to and convicted her comments Matt. 25. Am I really ready to stand before Christ and hear what He has to say about what I did to the least of these?  According to His word, whatever I did to the least of these, I did to Him.  Ignore the poor=ignore Christ. Ignore the hurting=ignore Christ. Ignore the imprisoned=ignore Christ. Ouch! It reminded me that Sanctity of Human life is about so much more than abortion! It also opened my eyes to hard, yet often unseen work, of so many in our church body.  The school teachers, foster parents, adopted grandparents, who pour out their all for others, never asking for anything else in return.

And, men, don't worry.  While Jen is the main author, her husband, Brandon, does write in here as well. Every few chapters or so we get to see what was happening in his heart as Jen was going through this huge change in hers.

Jen's transparency and humor will make it really hard to put this book down. Especially if you are craving something more with Christ and the church, but you just aren't sure what it is!  I have the book and I am more than happy to start a waiting list for anyone here in Hannibal who wants to read it. Even though we aren't all called to start a new church, we are all called to love those whom God has placed us near, rich or poor, regardless of skin color.

Now, what to do with it? What does this mean for my life? My marriage? My family? I really don't know! I know that I will continue to be involved in Aferschool Adventures, but right now, I feel like that's all I know for sure. I want to BE the church. I want to love others as Christ loved them. I want to stop being selfish and love my husband, family, neighbors, and community with reckless abandon and in a way that screams Christ's name. I don't know what that means, yet, but I am so glad that my life has been interrupted and won't be the same.  I was so overwhelmed by this in church this morning as we were singing "Build Your Kingdom Here" by the Rend Collective Experiment. I couldn't hold it in or hold stay still. It was such the cry of my heart! Lord, build Your kingdom here, in my heart, in my house, in my church! Lord, lead. Lord, guide. Lord, teach and mold. I thank You for the changes in hearts and structure You are doing in our church. Help us to be willing to do whatever You ask, even if it means services look different, happen at different times or meet in different places. Move us to be a people in Christ and about Christ. Oh, Lord, revive us and pour Your Spirit out on us. I thank You that being the church looks different in each life so that the most people can be told about You. Show us how the McSmith house is to be the church, right where we are.

While a lot of this may be loving on the poor and the least of these in my community, it's about so much more than that. It's really about loving, period. Loving God and loving others, no matter who they are or where they are from. It means understanding that Sunday morning at 9:15 and 10:30 may not be the best times to gather if you want the lost to come and hear God's love for them with the gathered church. It means asking "them" to come to "us" just may not work and we'll have to do the hard and uncomfortable work of going to "them" and showing God's love to them over and over and over. It's not a one time thing. It's a relationship and relationships take work. That's why it's hard and uncomfortable. And that's why I know I will only be able to do it with God's help because it's certainly not something I would do on my own!

So, read the book. Ask God to show you what He would have you do. Then, go and do what He's asked!

Of course, I have to list some of my fave quotes (and it was really hard to choose...if you borrow the book from me you'll see lots of underlining!)

"Until we are 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...There is a call on our body that must be answered collectively."

"All of a sudden, I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted, but selfish, committed but misguided. And that is not going to be enough. 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, feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and the least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough to one day stand before Jesus and say, 'Oh? Were You serious about all that?'"

"This is what God taught me through Judas as Jesus' table, eating the broken bread that was His body: 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. Turning a blind eye to the bottom on the grounds of 'unworthiness' is the antithesis to Jesus' entire mission. How dare we? Most of us know nothing, nothing of the struggles of the poor. We erroneously think ourselves superior, and it is a wonder God would use us at all to minister to His beloved."

I could go on and on, but, you should just read the book!!!

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