I’m with Shane Claiborne. Forget all the stories about how Jesus made life better – by solving a debt problem or helping someone overcome some relatively mild vice. Truth is, Jesus is totally messing up my life.
If I had gotten my way 15+ years ago, I would be a wealthy, big-city litigator right now, wiling away the years in an expensive office building during the weeks and at every Cowboys game on the weekends. I’d have a big house worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d go to a nice, clean-cut church where I’d check in every Sunday morning and otherwise do all of the things that good Christians do to make sure they can punch their ticket into heaven. And I’d listen to conservative talk radio, just to remind myself that there is no need to change the order of things: everyone is making their own choices and getting just what they deserve.
Life would be good.
But the more I read the gospels; the more I try to understand what Jesus was really all about, the more he has the audacity to come into my life and totally screw it up. He makes me think about every dollar I spend – who is benefitting from it and how? He makes me reflect on the kind of car I drive and how it affects God’s creation. He challenges me to make my children into risk-taking disciples, instead of neat, middle-class carbon copies of myself. He asks me to go places where I am uncomfortable, and to invite people into my house when I’d much rather have a quiet night alone. He intrudes on my free time and tells me to invest it the things that matter to him. He tells me that the politics that seemingly support my interests aren’t necessarily the ones that support his.
Far from being a cosmic Mr. Fix-it, Jesus is taking every priority and ambition that I ever held and – without so much as asking – turning it over like he did the tables in the temple.
But the truth is – having come to know the Jesus who messes with me at every turn – I would never go back to the old one. For all his annoying qualities, this is the Jesus that feels authentic to me. I feel like I finally am coming to know him for who he is. And in spite of all of the discomfort and downright inconvenience that he causes, I’m coming to see that the things that he is about are the things that really matter in this world.