Several years ago I received an email from someone I loved. It wasn’t the kind of email we like to receive, though. It was an email that left me devastated. One cutting me at the very core of everything I stood for.
This person was angry and hurting because of a personal life situation, so all that bitterness found its way directed at me. And because the person knew me well, they knew exactly what to say to hurt me the most.
“If everyone really knew you, they would hate you. You are the kind of person that darkens the church doors you walk through.”
I still flinch now as I write those words.
I remember it was a really dark season for us. Our daughter had recently come home and the brokenness was ravaging our hearts and lives as a family. I could only barely stay afloat and this person was angry at me. As I read the words, my hands began to shake. The tears turned to sobs I couldn’t control even though I desperately wanted to protect my children riding in the backseat from all the drama. And in that moment I wrestled with the feeling that God may just have broke His promise to stay with me through it all.
The email hurt as deeply as it did because with every beat of my heart I long to live a life representing Jesus well. I try to love well and live authentically. I don’t have it all together and I’m far from perfect. But, I’m crazy thankful for the way Jesus loves me and the way He has reached into my messes over and over again to redeem my life. And because of my love and gratitude for Him, I want to represent Him well and point others to the hope available in Him.
Not turn them away from Him.
Or represent Him as someone He is not.[bctt tweet=”Somehow as Christians we often represent the Jesus we love very much as someone or something He is not #realJesus #stolenJesus @jamiamerine @Harvest_House” username=”lori_schumaker”]
I know that is one of the reasons I was so intrigued by Jami Amerine’s new book, Stolen Jesus: An Unconventional Search for the Real Savior. (One reason, of course, was that I love the humor and depth with which Jami writes.)
Even the toughest of us form our thoughts and beliefs around what we hear and see in our world. We try to weed out the lies and hold onto the truth, yet we are often unsuccessful.
And the real Jesus is not an exception to this situation.
The real Jesus is stolen again and again.
And He is portrayed as someone or something He is not.
As a child born to a Mom of Mormon faith and a father who was anti-religion altogether, Jami’s perspective is unique. After being banned from the Mormon church as a child, she spent the rest of her life trying to reconcile Fifth-Grade Jesus, Catholic Jesus, and Americanized Jesus (just to name a few!)
Jami walked years and years of living in chains and bearing burdens of the false Jesus passed onto her from the world. But her journey lead her to the eventual understanding of the Real Jesus.
A Jesus who paid it all. One of bewildering grace who leaves us only wanting to receive His love and love back.[bctt tweet=”The Real Jesus is One who paid it all.One of bewildering grace leaving us wanting to receive His love and love back deeply #StolenJesus ” username=”lori_schumaker”]
As I read Stolen Jesus, I found myself laughing one moment and chewing on deep theology the next. I pondered both what I believe for myself and how I represent for others. Do I fully embrace the Real Jesus or deep down do I hold onto some false beliefs about Him? Do I hold onto fears because somewhere deep inside me I wonder if He is a wrathful God? What about grace? Do I fully embrace and receive it? And do I really believe I’m redeemed? Worthy? Adored?
What about the Jesus I show others? Do I love well? Do I put aside my judgment and love out of the depths of His never-ending well? How about my tongue? Do I restrain it, using it to lift up and point to Him rather than cause division? Am I a witness to sacrifice because of love? And do I admit failure and mistakes in humility?
[bctt tweet=”How does your view of Jesus affect the way you live for yourself and the way you represent Him to others? #StolenJesus #hope @JamiAmerine @Harvest_House” username=”lori_schumaker”]
Friends, I couldn’t recommend Stolen Jesus more. It’s the kind of book you could read without stopping to do life. The humor keeps you going and the real-life stories draw you in. And then, in the midst of all that, you grapple with your own views of Jesus while walking away more convicted to embrace the Real Jesus and shine HIM into the lives of those in your everyday life.
What You Can Find Here
The content you find here is designed to challenge you to live your best life. No stagnancy. A life that looks different. One that shines a little brighter with the hope, love, joy, and purpose we find in a life cultivated by Christ! It will push you out of your comfort zone and it will make you uncomfortably aware of the areas in which you need to grow.
And best of all, you will know you are not in it alone. Not only am I here growing and learning right alongside you, but thousands of others are, too.