There is nothing I more enjoy than reading a book that forces me to step outside of myself and re-evaluate what I think (and feel) about certain ideas. I love reading books that strengthen my faith
while challenging me to take the next step on my journey with Christ, and propel me into real action. Yes, the Bible alone is certainly sufficient to spur such change, and only with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, he did place prophets (and prophetesses) in our path to give us a good kick in the pants when we seem to completely miss the point or disobey in general. "Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity" by Jen Hatmaker was that book for me. She was the prophetess the Holy Spirit sent to give me a swift kick in the pants, AND to confirm all the wrestlings/longings/desires I had been trying to grapple with as a follower of Jesus as well.
This is one book I do not want to spoil for you by giving you too much "play-by-play" action, so let me just hit on a few things. First, the title alone should pique one's curiosity. Some of you may be in the camp that thinks, "I've never been comfortable," while the other group may be in the category that thinks, "there is not a thing wrong with my being comfortable." I fall into a third group, and one I believe Jen is speaking directly to (though she really is speaking to all 3). I once was comfortable, but now not so much. My camp is the one that says, "There has GOT to be more to this Jesus walk than this. Why do we look so rich while the communities around us are struggling so much? Why does 'church' look so different in America than just about anywhere else? Am I obeying Jesus??"
I am not comfortable, and I haven't been for a long, long time. In all transparency, that has led to me wandering a bit through the desert--which just ended up being time spent in different denominations trying to figure this all out. So, my second point would be that this book brings us to a point in which we have to honestly answer that tension-causing question, "Is this really it?? Are we doing what we were called to do?" Again, Jen helps us to see, through her prophetic reasoning, that we really might be missing the big picture. You know, the one in which Jesus really did say to us (and in which he meant so in the most literal sense): Feed my sheep, feed the poor, take care of the orphans, and widows, love your enemy, pray for your enemy, love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, visit me in prison, stand up for the oppressed, etc. He didn't just say those things because they sounded pretty nice. He died for them. He meant it, and he meant for us to listen and do. One verse Jen points out in Ezekiel has penetrated my heart so deeply. It comes from Ezekiel 16:49: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom; She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy." If this doesn't sound like the American/Western church in general, I don't know what does.
Another reference Jen makes to herself is that of a "recovering legalist". Oh, boy. This is so true of me, and while I struggle as she does in the area of always trying to get the law of the letter just right (and in my OCD way of thinking, I mean that . . . to the very last jot and tittle), I so often miss the application part. You know, the part where Jesus tells you to do it, and instead of trying to exegete the death out of that passage, "just to be sure you don't get it wrong," you JUST DO WHAT IT SAYS. Novel concept, I know. And this is my third point: Jen shares the struggle, but she also shares the beauty of the discovery (and might I add simplicity) of simply obeying Jesus command to "Go". Go to the least among you and show them Jesus. Don't wait on them to come to your pretty church building, with your pretty music, and pretty programs. Take Jesus TO them. We are literally surrounded by sick, hungry, dying, unloved, uncared for human beings that just need Jesus--not our stipulations and man-made rules.
This is the reason, I believe (and Jen speaks of), that many of us followers of Jesus feel less than satisfied "doing church" each week. We are ignoring the most basic commands Jesus himself gave us. The consequences are grave. People are dying because we are the sisters in Sodom. We are those who were overfed while the rest of the world is starving to death, arrogant about our model of church and how "right" we have it, because after all! Look how blessed we are! We are those who are unconcerned--we can't see it, so it isn't real to us. But it is real. And the most basic?? Are we helping the poor and needy? Are we giving up of ourselves for someone else?
Many of us cut our teeth on Jen with her work, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess". If you felt more than convicted by it, you really MUST read Interrupted. I hope it speaks to your heart and settles some of that dust in your mind. If you aren't sure about the whole poverty thing, you need to read it simply to be informed. The statistics alone were enough to bring me to my knees. And I mean that. I cried. A lot. And that was just the first few chapters.
I feel very passionate about this book being the catalyst needed to kick you in the pants, get you diving back into your Bible, and making a big difference in your communities--both locally and globally. It may help you, as it did me, by simply putting out there that many of us feel a real disconnect between the church and God's Word.
I WANT you to read this. You will need to grab your Bible too when doing so. I want to offer one lucky (immensely blessed) reader, due to the generosity of Tyndale House Publishers, a free copy of this book. In order to enter the contest, you must leave a comment with your name and email so I can contact you directly once I pick a winner. The winner will be chosen at 8:00 p.m. on 8/8/14. Please feel free to leave a comment about any other books you may have read by Jen. I would love to read them! Also, now through August 10th, you may go to www.navpress.com and receive a copy of "Interrupted" for 20% off!! Again, this is a special deal offered just for reading this review, so grab it, and grab a bunch more for your friends. There is no code necessary.
Thanks for reading my review, and be sure to enter today for your chance to win a copy of "Interrupted: When Jesus Wrecks Your Comfortable Christianity" by Jen Hatmaker. Then, go start some fun reading groups with your friends, and start LIVING!