How Jesus Messed Up My Life

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.


19 Responses to How Jesus Messed Up My Life

  1. Thurman8er says:

    After following him for three decades, give or take, the figure I chase after is beginning to take form. And he’s not at all what I thought he was.

    He’s better.

  2. Steve says:

    Much good food for thought. I saw your mention at Cope’s blog.


  3. toby says:

    How true this is. Especially when you agree to follow Jesus in the direction he is pointing which you know is filled with hardships. It is great in the beginning, but when the shock waves hit and the vast majority of people, including your family, think you are completely insane, then you find out how much faith in Jesus you really have! In my case, I’ve come up lacking. That is why true revolutionaries like Claiborne are so impressive to me.

  4. Mark says:

    Hello Matt. Found you from Cope’s blog.

    Great blog. I can really relate to this post. I’m a lawyer in Waco. Declined the big city offers because, well, it sounds like you probably know why. My wife and I just want to live the way of Jesus and for me that meant small firm in Waco and not big firm in Dallas. So far we haven’t regretted that decision.

    I often tell people (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) that Claiborne’s book is one I wish everyone would read and wish I hadn’t ever read. He doesn’t hold back. Very challenging.

    I’m interested in your posts on the civil justice system and the Kingdom. I’ll be checking back in.

  5. […] briefly stopped by Mike Cope’s blog recently, and he had linked this post from a member at his church.  He was writing in response to Shane Claiborne’s recent book […]

  6. sluggabohn says:

    Don’t forget that as Jesus and God allow us to go through lifes trials and tribulations, we are made stronger. Just imagine how strong all the 12 year old girls are – who Jesus has allowed to be repeatedly raped by their fathers. (God be praised!)
    Can you imagine how weak these innocent little girls would be if Jesus had allowed them to live their lives like they wanted? They would be tra-la-la all smiles and hope, laughing and singing with their friends. But in his love for them, the Lord stood by and did nothing as they were violated by the person they most trusted in the world. (This must be why God told them to respect their parents, and why he equates His spiritual position with our earthly fathers physical position.)

  7. dogslol says:

    Interesting post. Yesterday I read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that…For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (NIV)

  8. hellopayton says:

    This is terrible! I can tell you are evil on the inside!

  9. markroberts says:

    thank you for sharing.
    please google seven days in Utopia by Dave cook. I think based on your blog you will enjoy this book.

    Reminder, if you want to make our lord laugh, tell him YOUR plan. We must be thankful the lord has a plan. As we have to fire and pound a sword 150 times to make it razor sharp, so our lord loves us so much to shape us.

  10. Jackson K. Eskew says:

    Excellent post. At first I was sad and angry, but then the smoke cleared. You should read Benedict XVI’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth, even if you are not a Catholic. Here’s a review by a Protestant:

  11. Matt says:

    Thanks, all, for the comments. Mike’s link created a HUGE spike in my page hits on Wednesday which, in turn, catapulted me to the #1 spot on the list of Growing WordPress Blogs. By the end of the day, this post was getting huge (truly, unprecedented for me) exposure.

    Apologies to some of you who don’t come from evangelical or post-evangelical backgrounds. This post probably looks a little strange out of that context, but hopefully some of you – like Jackson – are still getting the point.

    …and Sluggabohn. I’m really, truly sorry about the experiences that you (or perhaps some people who you love) have had with Christians. Sadly, sometimes people who take on the name of Jesus don’t act like him, or even appreciate what he stands for. I hope that some day you will take the time to reconsider the whole Jesus thing. I think you will be pleasantly surprised, even shocked, to discover what he was really all about.

  12. BrentD says:

    you may be interested in listening to imago dei’s podcast. Rick Mckinley is really down to earth. check out an interview with Rick and Donald Miller from Catalyst 2006. you can check it out at

  13. […] Jesus Messed Up My Life by Matt Ritchie […]

  14. […] How Jesus Messed Up My Life « Running With the Lion Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. […]

  15. Cleo Powers says:

    Another great book to read is ” Never Lick A Frozen Flagpole by Marvin Phillips. You can google Marvin to get an insight on his Love for God.
    if Jesus makes me any stronger I’m gonna need a mind doctor!

  16. Right on Cleo.
    For those of you that never heard of Marvin Phillips, it would do your heart good to google him. He is a retired minister and at over 75 years old, he is still more agile than a man of 55. his million bibles for Africa says it all!


    Please Jesus, Holy Father, Holy Spirit, keep messing up my life!

  18. LittleFlower says:

    Thank you for this post. I can relate so much. Jesus didn’t mess up my life, though – I did, and now, with His help, we are fixing it together. Like you, I decided to go to law school and even got into a top 10 school. Well, the thing was that law was totally not for me and I really knew it deep down inside all along, but I went to law school for the “prestige,” the feeling I WAS somebody after an abusive childhood and to please family. I said basically “OK, God, now I’M going to be somebody…I’m getting mine! Never mind that I know law isn’t what you have for me; I’m doing this and you’re GOING to bless it!” Well, God showed me. I had a “nervous breakdown” the summer after first year but stayed with law school despite advice from doctors and psychologists not to. Four years after graduation, I have quit law and am now doing what I believe God had for me all along. My life has been devastated by my own stupidity, but thank God, He will redeem even my worst mistakes. Praise Him!

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