There's this woman that I
It's not that I am already nailing this... it's that she is doing it on a far more consistent basis and I so want to rise up to living my life like this! She shows me a better way... the way of Jesus - all wrapped up in real skin and real issues and real life.
Here's the deal... she wrote this book a few years back and I didn't 'know' her then so I hadn't read it yet. Oh how I wish I had... but I just finished reading the revised and expanded edition last night and you guys - (as usual) she says the things that my heart feels.
She writes part of our story in the telling of her own. You see, it's been nearly 15 years since we first began to be Interrupted in our own lives. Disoriented and unsatisfied... not disgruntled or wounded - just... tired. Tired of playing church and doing things the old way when clearly the old way was not only not working, but it seemed as though those Three Guys (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) were not exactly invited into the mix and given room and time and space to participate... we were weary. Yes - even in doing good. We saw little hope for something else... but oh how we longed for it!
We longed for Community and unity and doing the red parts of the Bible. We wanted to belong to a local church, without having to squish back into a system that we felt was flawed and dying. The church is God's idea and it's a great one... and never in this journey have we been against her. We just went years and years not feeling like we were a part of her.
Instead of Sunday mornings, we began to find that we are the church on every morning... all day, every day, even on Saturdays... We opened our homes and our hearts and we gathered in living rooms and in parks and we loved loved loved this season. It was healing and hope-filled and it was Kingdom, and Presence-minded, and oh so patient -expecting Him to show up and oh how He loves to do just that!
"Our only hope is to follow the example of Jesus and get back out there, winning people over with ridiculous love and a lifestyle that causes them to finally sit up and take notice." page 95, Interrupted
Slowly, that season came to an end as our people relocated, or plugged into churches around the Valley. It was a short season... but it Interrupted us in all the best ways.
For years longer, we would plug in here or attend regularly there... we are well aware that there is no perfect church. This is not in our search. What we are looking for is a Cross-denominational church. (Thanks for letting us borrow that, Jen!) We are looking for a gathering of believers who are united in vision to love... to relate... to show up. To serve, to empower, to uplift. There are pockets of this in every church, and we are fervently praying for Him to show us where our pocket is!
In the meantime, we have found hope. We have a community now who are all about loving God and loving people. They are everyday people... pastors and stay at home mamas, lawyers and teachers and blue collar workers... they are missionaries, in town and across the globe, and they want nothing more than to see His Kingdom reign. They are bold and rising up and living this life of loving radically on a daily basis and my how it feels like home. Still... it's not a church, and yet, it is church for us.
But in paging through this book (and clearly giving my highlighter a workout) I found hope for a redeemed system of how we do church. I found comfort in knowing we are not alone... there are so many who have felt this divine Interruption and are longing for the change. And change is coming.
What Jens' words stirred in me (see... I call her Jen... as if we are friends!) is the call to just do it... to be the change... to make a difference. Much like Heidi Baker's invitation, Jen Hatmaker reminds us to simply love the one in front of us!
God had been Interrupting me and my comfortable life for quite some time and to be honest, this book was simply the tipping over point. It was a glorious undoing... a wake up call to stop waiting and just start digging in to the messy beautiful work of loving people. Not just people who are already our people... no - we've been doing that for years. The call is to go out - OUT, ya'll - and love people 'out there'. Across town, across the pew, across the ocean - wherever He leads you, go - and love.
"We looked each other in the eyes, and we were the same-- fragile humans who are patterned after Jesus, which makes us all beautiful. We're all poor; I just have more stuff. My affection for them became my offering, far more important than the food or clean socks I brought. A hot meal can't hold a candle to a real friend. Jesus ignited a love for people that burned white hot, a growing inferno out of a tiny spark He'd started earlier.
So as I was beginning to identify with the least --and Jesus already said He was the least-- I was perhaps starting to commune with Christ in earnest for the first time in my life. It was a party at the bottom. Sorry I was so late. I got lost." page 114, Interrupted
So... Go! Go and do the red parts... because:
This book is the Hatmaker's story, and it is our story. It can be your story, too... but ultimately, it is His story. And really, that is what we're all about, yes? Representing Him and the telling of His story in all that we do!
This book* not only stirs you up for something more, and gives you hope that that 'more' is possible... but it also teaches some foundational truths and points to Jesus. He is always our example. He is ultimately the One we
I will leave you with this, from the book (and then fully believe you will go out and buy a copy for yourself!):
"This is the mission we are all called to as believers, the noble task of the church. It's not enough to be theologically brilliant without the heart of a missionary. It's sometimes intangible work planted in the messy soil of relationships instead of the cleaner territory of theology. It is slow, often maddening. It requires the patience of Job and the maturity of Paul to execute the mission of Jesus. Living on mission will be misinterpreted and criticized --count on it. Cultural immersion is basically a commitment to being misunderstood.
...The battle is for the souls of humanity, and our secret weapon is love. The King and His kingdom will reign supreme --that is settled. The only question is: Will you help contend for it?"
I'm all in! Are you?
* - I am honored to be one of the 250 bloggers chosen to be part of spreading the word about the revised and expanded version of this book. The Tyndale House Publishers sent me a copy for free for my honest review.