If you’ll remember my earlier post, I’ve been given the the privilege of reading and reviewing the revised and expanded version of “Interrupted” by Jen Hatmaker. I took my time getting through the book as I didn’t want to miss anything. This book is FULL of wisdom, heart and lots of things that have convicted me to really stop and think about my relationship with Jesus and how I serve others around me.
I guess it’s safe to say that this book has interrupted me as well. And I’m happy that it has.
Let me start by saying this is the story of how Jen and her husband, Brandon (author of the book “Barefoot Church” that really spoke to Nick) left their church in Austin and started a new church in south Austin. This is not a book about how to start a new church or THE way to serve those around us. This is merely her (with a few sections with Brandon’s take) way of sharing the experience and how it totally turned their lives upside down.
Jen writes in such a way that really resonates with me. She’s snarky, sarcastic, and just plain funny, but her love for Jesus shines brightly through. She makes me want to move to Austin and force her to be my friend! I’d love to have coffee with her and share life. She’s just very candid and I like that.
I’ve been struggling about how to share my thoughts on this book with you. While I want to share EVERY piece of wisdom that I gleaned (which is A LOT), and really took to heart, I want to just share a few things and encourage you to read this book and make your own observations. But prepare yourself. This book will convict you. However, I never felt guilty; I just felt very excited about what I can do to change the way I look at the church (God’s people, not the building) and how to be a friend to those around me who don’t have that hope in Jesus.
Jesus called us to serve. Jen starts the book talking about a prayer that started the change in her life. She simply prayed, “raise up a holy passion in me” and Jesus did just that. She quotes this passage in John frequently: “Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?”…”Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17) What does it mean to really feed His sheep? Give money on Sunday and live in a comfortable, holy bubble? I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant, but it’s certainly easy and cozy there isn’t it? I’m certainly not innocent in this. It’s super easy to live in a “holy huddle” and never really look outside of that and notice that there are people all around us who are hurting, scared, hungry and searching for something. Something we HAVE. Something we can SHARE. But yet we don’t because it’s uncomfortable and often messy. But why would we want to take this gift of salvation and keep to ourselves? Jen says, “Saying, “I meant well” is not going to cut it.”
She’s right. Jesus couldn’t have said it more clearly. “Feed my sheep.” What does that look like? Well, it looks like a lot of things. Perhaps it’s as easy as donating food, or working at food bank or soup kitchen to literally feed someone who is hungry. But I think it also means so many more things. The sky is limit! You can’t out-give God! That being said, it’s not always going to be all rainbows and kittens. This is hard work. People with hate you. Despise what you’re doing and not be thankful. But Jen reminds us, “The risk of encountering a few weeds is not sufficient reason to avoid the whole field of human suffering” and “we are only qualified to administer mercy, not judgment”. Judgment isn’t up to us, friends.
We’ve been called to serve. It’s as simple as that.
Jen and Brandon took a HUGE leap of faith. They left their church family, a salary and comfort. They didn’t know what God wanted to them to do when they left their previous church, but they knew that was what He was calling them to do. And while it was sometimes confusing and scary, they never felt that God wasn’t there. He was always ahead of them, paving the way and showing them which way to go. As Christians it’s so easy to be all, “Hey, God! Can you just give me the whole story now? I need all the details. Thanks.” Ha! If only it worked that way! While I often wish that’s the way God worked, I know from experience that not knowing makes me really trust His will and grow closer to Him in the process. That, my friends, is what it’s all about! God knows the big picture, and I know that if we knew everything we’d be too overwhelmed to move forward. But taking it one step at time and trusting that God really does have our best interest in mind, makes this life so much more fulfilling. Jen wisely says, “The means do not justify the end when it comes to God’s kingdom. The means are everything; the end is secondary.”
However, we have to be careful. We have to know our audience. My pastor is always reminding us that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. It’s easy to roll your eyes and be all, “yeah, yeah”, but it’s really true. Could I just walk over to my neighbor’s house and say, “do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? You should!”? Sure. But how much more of an impact will I have if I treat them as a friend and serve them by shoveling their driveway (and later finding out that they had had surgery and couldn’t shovel it on their own) and just being a good neighbor to them? Do I desire for them to have that relationship with Jesus? Of course I do! But only God can change and speak to their heart. I just need need to be willing to serve them, expect nothing in return, and share the hope that I have when prompted from the Holy Spirit. Jen reminds us, “How lovely a faith that goes forth as loving brothers and sisters rather than angry defenders and separatists.”
With the book, Jen also gave us bloggers some questions to consider while reviewing the book. The one that stuck out to me was: “What would you struggle to give up if Jesus wanted you to use your life to make a difference in the world?”
There is a part of me who just wants to leave this question with you and be done. This, is a loaded and convicting question. For me, I have to say that I would struggle to give up my free time. I have the huge privilege of being a stay-at-home wife with a lot of time to do the things that I enjoy. (side note: how is amazing my husband to encourage me in this?!) Baking, making our house a home, spending time with friends and being available to people during the day. But do I have time that I use selfishly and could give up to make an impact in my community? Yes. 100% yes. Since reading this book, I’ve been praying that God would show me where to serve and what that looks like for me. And while the human part of me isn’t totally sold on this yet, I’m reminded that we are made for so much more. “Serving people is not heaven’s requirement, only a response to heaven’s mercy.”
I encourage you to pick up a copy of “Interrupted” and read it with an open heart. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I want to leave you with one last quite from the book. “What makes the gospel good news isn’t the concept, but the real-life person who has been changed by it.” Let’s be changed! Let’s live out the good news everyday!
I can’t wait to see what God has for me just around the corner.