Staff Picks: Jesus Untangled

October 16, 2017
Note: Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our youth pastor, Dave Hallahan.

 

Right before the presidential election heated up in 2015, I declared myself a “political atheist.” In telling my wife this I expressed that I did not believe the government actually had the power to enact meaningful, lasting change – not to mention the divisive nature of American politics. I decided that I was no longer going to invest – with my time, emotions, money, or even my vote – to something that separated rather than brought together.

I’m fully aware that to many that decision seems irresponsible as I shirk my civic responsibility and throw away one of the most basic American rights. To others, I think, you at least understand and perhaps even applaud that decision. Well, it took like a month…maybe…for me to jump right back into my old ways and entrench myself fully into the mess that was the presidential election.

I justified my backsliding ways by calling this a unique campaign deserving of all my righteous indignation! And how would people see the light if I don’t furiously retweet all of the correct opinions? I was needed. America, nay, the WORLD needed to hear my voice – or at least the voices I was liking and retweeting.

Looking back I wasted a lot of time and energy on the last presidential election and the following few months. I started to disconnect and separate myself a bit for my own emotional and spiritual health. Then I picked up a book, Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb. It appeared to be the oasis I longed for in the middle of the political desert. I wasn’t disappointed.

We are to impact society not by voicing our opinions about what government should do, but by demonstrating what we as a church are willing to do as we sacrifice our time, money, talent, and privileges to help all who are hungry, homeless, oppressed, lost, judged, and suffering from discrimination. – Greg Boyd in the forward of Jesus Untangled

Author, Keith Giles, asks us to take a step back from our preconceived notions when it comes to faith and politics. He does this fully aware that emotions often run high when this topic is broached. So he asks that you give him the benefit of the doubt for as many pages as you can muster. “I would ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt. Take a few moments to consider the ideas and the scriptures I’m about to show you. Take a step back from everything you’ve ever been told, or seen modeled by other Christians, and try to see things from a different perspective…I don’t know about you, but I think it’s always a good idea to place our convictions on the anvil once in a while and hammer them out little.”

Not everyone will be up for the challenge, but those who are will be glad they were. This book is an important work given the current state of American politics and the Church’s involvement. If you’re tired of hearing both ‘the Left’ and ‘the Right’ claim that Jesus sides with them and are instead looking for a third, more Christ-like way, this book is for you. Giles takes great care as he goes throughout the Bible and early Church history to discuss the evolving relationship between Church and State.

For instance, when offered political power from the Adversary in John 4, Jesus rejected it. Jesus knew that there was a better way to bring forth change. Jesus knew that the way to bring about societal change was not through the powers that be, but from the bottom up. When we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves we begin to see the world change.

Jesus Untangled was, for me, exactly what it claimed to be. It helped me to untangle my faith from the politics of America. It was just what I needed to recalibrate where my time, energy, hope, and faith were being put. I don’t think you should immediately start thinking like me, OR ELSE! Heck, I’ve changed my view on politics a lot of the last several years. Who am I to assume “I’ve arrived”? But I would encourage you to evaluate how much of your Christianity is more American than it is Christ-like. I would encourage you to allow your feathers to be ruffled by the writings of Keith Giles and his book, Jesus Untangled. What’s the worst that could happen? You agree and change? You disagree and stay the same?

In an atmosphere that is growing ever more divisive, it seems important that we, as the body of Christ, look like the body of Christ and are prepared to show the world what we believe not by influencing the powers that be, but by sacrificing for those around us.