The premise of this book is simple: what if we (all of us who identify as Christian) choose to live our lives actually doing what Jesus said to do? What if we stop trying to make people admit that we’re right and we just love our enemies? You know, like Jesus said?
The book is written as a dialogue between the co-authors and each chapter deals with a different topic (for instance, how should we deal with immigrants? How should we deal with gay rights? Is it enough to simply believe something?)
This isn’t going to be a traditional review because it’s impossible to discuss this book in anywhere near a normal way. And this is going to be pretty long, so if you don’t want to read it, the general gist is this: buy this book and read it. It’s amazing and no words I say can do it justice.
I’m a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he lived on Earth and died for my sins, then was resurrected. But I want to do more than believe in Jesus. I want to be like Him and live my life in a way that defies the way that Christians are “supposed” to be.
Growing up, I was never very religious. We didn’t go to church much when I was young, and it wasn’t until my best friend became born again that I started going to church with her. (As backstory, she moved to Arizona when we were in elementary school, but we stayed in touch and would visit back and forth until jobs and our finances got in the way—thank you, adulthood!) So I got saved. And then my dad died. And then her mom died. And I don’t want to blame those two things on me turning away from God, because it wouldn’t have made my dad happy, and it would’ve grieved Jen’s mom very much. (And I use that word advisedly—that’s exactly how I think she would’ve reacted.)
But even so, I couldn’t believe in a God that allowed things like that to happen. And then I came out. And I don’t know if you know how Christians tend to respond to gay people, but it’s not very well. So I was happy that God and I weren’t currently speaking, because He wouldn’t have liked me anyway.
But it turns out that you can’t blame God for His followers. I was lucky enough to accidentally acquire a group of amazing people scattered all over the country, all of whom were amazing and smart and kind and all of whom were passionate Christians. And it was one of those things where I couldn’t NOT pay attention when they spoke about their faith. But even so, the idea of maybe trying to believe again was scary. Because I’m still gay and that’s not really a thing with the generic idea of Christians. (And no, I still wasn’t really paying attention to the fact that my friends all liked me just fine.)
Then one of my closest friends and favorite people gave me Blue Like Jazz for Christmas one year and I am not exaggerating when I say that it changed my life. Every time I think of the part where the woman tells Don Miller that she realized that Jesus liked her no matter what the “good Christians” thought, I start to cry.
And I said all that to say this: I want to be more like Jesus. I want to live my life in a way that defies the expectations that people have of Christians as narrow-minded people who are against everything that isn’t themselves.
Except it’s hard. It’s incredibly hard, and I kind of hate it. I’ve been working for what seems like my whole life to be a kinder person. I’m pretty sure that if it weren’t for other people, I could absolutely do it. But I tend to react emotionally and sometimes that includes lashing out. And that is pretty much the exact opposite of loving my neighbor.
It would be so easy if I could just deal with the people I love, the people who love me and who make me the best version of myself. But unfortunately, my neighborhood is the entire world—the people who love me, tolerate me and judge me without even knowing me. And the revelation I had while reading this book is that I need to love people like they’re my best friend. (Note: the book had no mention of how awesome my best friend is, so you will have to take my word for that.)
I’ve been discussing this goal with so many of my Christian friends and one of them gave me the best advice: ask God to help me see people the way He does. (So far, God hasn’t listened, but I will keep asking.)
So anyway, that’s my goal for the rest of my life: be more like Jesus and less like me. And to love the world like everyone I meet is my best friend, someone who I am so fortunate to have in my life. I need to start focusing on what connects us, not what divides us. I don’t know how to start. I don’t even know if I can. But it won’t stop me from trying.