I gotta tell you. This book was a really good one…in a terrifically awesome and disturbing way. So. Without further adieu…
What does it really mean to be like Jesus?
That is the fundamental question that drives Hugh Halter’s book, Sacrilege.
The conclusions Halter makes, and the suggestions that come from them, are what drive the title.
And maybe Halter’s proclivity for tattoos? Or piercings? Or drinking beer? Or open communion? Or not using the King James Version?
Halter starts with the notion that Christians say they follow Jesus and want to be more Christ-like, but when you look at what those well-meaning Christians do and what Jesus did and compare the two…it’s not really working out that way.
So how should it work out?
Halter uses The Beatitudes as a framework for examining what Jesus said we should be about…and how that might actually play out in the 21st century (note the absence of the word “church” after century…chances are, it doesn’t play out there for most of you). Halter provides stories, examples, and challenges of what it might look like to be apprentices of Jesus…to be like Jesus, do what he did, and do it with the kinds of people he liked to hang out with (hint: Jesus was found more often with tax collectors and sinners…you know…not the typical church crowd…and less often with the typical church crowd). That’s not to say Halter thinks we shouldn’t do church because that’s not where Jesus hangs out. (Jesus went to Temple, people.) What Halter does provide, in addition to ways we can be Jesus apprentices as individuals and families, are suggestions for how churches might embody this apprenticeship as a larger community.
And, quite frankly, I love and hate him for it. Because that he proposes–indeed, the life to which Jesus calls us–is awesome and disturbing.
It means moving beyond places in which we find comfort. It means really doing something about the way each one of us allocates our resources of personal time, energy, finances, etc. It means opening ourselves up to the hurt and pain and joys of others–and being present for all of it in the messy, complex, nuanced lives each of us lives. It might mean closing the church doors one Sunday morning a month and the whole community engaging the needs of the community around it. It might mean, on any given evening, that your dinner table looks like an island of misfit toys.
I am thankful for the challenge. I am thankful for the discomfort. I am thankful for the grace that is present as I move…in fits and starts…toward being more like the real Jesus.
If you’ve been looking for a way to rethink family, faith, spirituality, church, scripture, and more, this is the book for you.
But it might ought to come with a warning label. Because you may never be the same after reading it. And that’s a good thing.