I’m confident the most challenging task in my life would be to convey to you in words the heartache I have for American Christians. It’s not just American Christians. It’s any affluent culture that claims Christ as their Savior. It’s me. I’m not pointing fingers. Except that I am. At all of us, me included.
Are you sitting down? Are you ready for what I’m about to tell you?
I read a book.
That’s right. In my 20-somethings, I applied the skills I learned in Mrs. Tindal’s kindergarten class and read an entire book. I couldn’t put it down. For a little over a week I neglected all household duties so I could soak up the goodness of this book. I’m TOTALLY kidding. Except that I’m not kidding at all.
Thankfully I don’t have the challenging task of conveying my heart because Jen Hatmaker already did that. This book contains all the reasons why I am sick sick sick of myself. This book is the cry of my heart. This book contains the convicting realities of all that I have been wrestling with in my mind and my heart for a few years now. There is not a thing in this book I disagree with. And while I may not be able to practically apply all that is in this book while in this season of life with little ones, I have most certainly taken the meat of it and I am searching/praying for ways to apply it now. I want this change to stick. I don’t want a high from this book that quickly fades as I settle back into normal. I don’t want to settle back into normal. I want the abnormal and uncomfortable and strange and different to become the new normal. That’s why, if you’ve noticed, I’ve been a little absent from all social media outlets lately. Except for the occasional need for communicating on Facebook (like giving sub plans for a day that Lily was sick and I had to stay home with her) and logging on to Twitter to tweet the link for this post, I’ve stayed away but not in a legalistic way. I knew after reading this book that if I let too much time pass between reading and doing, I would eventually allow the book to collect dust and my mind would become too lazy to care. This book is hard core. A social media fast is what I need so that I can reduce things in my life in order for God to increase and for His reasons for me reading this book to settle permanently in my head and heart.
More on that later.
I need to write a book to compile all my thoughts on this book. I underlined practically every word. I was convicted in every way, so much that at the end of the book I prayed the Lord would show me where to begin to process the conviction. The conviction is GOOD.
Don’t misunderstand the conviction. Jen’s purpose for her readers is to be intentional and simplistic thinkers and doers; not to just be so full of conviction that we feel worthless. What she writes is that we as Christ-followers, genuine worshipers of the Most High God, are completely missing the point of our walk with Christ. We are so consumed with being consumers that we are very poor stewards of all that we have excessively consumed. We live unintentionally. We are careless. We are foolish. We don’t think twice about anything because our future seems materialistically secure. We live in excess in ways we don’t realize, while most of the world lives without enough to survive.
And I know what you are probably thinking. The same thoughts I had. Your individual choice to change your spending habits, your eating habits, your consumer habits are not going to even scratch the surface to solve the issue of poverty in this world.
Never mind that Jesus fed 5,000+ people with one little boy’s lunch.
But as Christ-followers, we don’t do the right thing based on our justification of whether or not it will do any good. Our view is flawed and finite. We do the right thing because God has told us to do the right thing. Jen quotes in her book, “Our vocation is not contingent on results or the state of the planet. Our calling simply depends on our identity as God’s response-able human image-bearers.” (Ibid., 182).
I can’t possibly sum up the entire book in one post. I plan to take all seven chapters and do a post on each chapter. This is the only way I know how to process what I’ve read. I write to process my thoughts. And, lucky you, I’m writing my thoughts publicly.
But my mere thoughts won’t do any good unless you READ THIS BOOK. I would love to discuss this with you. Trust me, you’ll need someone to talk to when it’s all said and done.
I’ll leave you with two of my favorite questions from the book. It was hard to choose just two. The whole book is remarkable.
Would Jesus overindulge on garbage food while climbing out of a debt hole from buying things He couldn’t afford to keep up with neighbors He couldn’t impress? In so many ways I am the opposite of Jesus’ lifestyle. This keeps me up at night. I can’t have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings he begged me to avoid. (p. 29)
How will I answer for my choices when God confronts them one day? With this much expendable income funding restaurants, shoe stores, and movie theaters, I doubt Jesus will accept my excuses for neglecting the poor on account of cash flow. (p. 152)
Be warned. My little Merry Heart blog is about to BLOW UP with 7 stuff. I hope you’ll stick around for all of it. And I pray you’ll be challenged like me. Challenged enough to make room for real, permanent change in the way you do life. It’s worth it.
And one of these days my online presence will be revived. I don’t miss it enough to return…yet :).