My first introduction to Rachel Held Evans was one that made think she was WAY out there. I had been warned that her views were probably more liberal than my own. I was told that some don’t even believe that she is a Christian. I was also told that she’s known for believing in theistic evolution. Still, I was intrigued. I’d read a little bit of her work and I must admit that I didn’t think she was crazy off the deep end. I’m sure that there is a lot that we might not see eye to eye on, but as far as I can tell she loves Jesus and loves others, so for me… I guess I think she’s Christian.
Evolving in Monkey Town is her book about how her faith changed. She went from being a know-it-all who was certain she had all the answers to struggling with some severe doubt. She’s honest about the questions that kept her up at night. She looked at things like life and death, heaven and hell. She struggled with questions about how people who have never heard about God could be punished. Somehow because she was born in the USA with Christian parents that gave her a chance at heaven, but what about those who didn’t win what she calls the “cosmic lottery”, what about those who don’t have the chance? What about the poor and broken? It’s a good book for wrestling and wondering. Personally, I’m glad she had the guts to share her journey and to honest about her thoughts.
I really like where she ended up as a result. It all come back to who God is. While talking about absolute truth, she said that she believes that absolute truth looks like Jesus. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not sure why there are so many denominations in the world and I don’t understand how one person can read a passage of scripture and get “proof” for something and someone else can read that same passage and come up with an opposite belief. I guess when it comes down to it, I don’t want to fight about the small stuff. I just want to focus on the stuff that matters – like Jesus and his compassion. I want to live a life that loves the poor and broken. I want to love God and love others. I think that might be enough. I don’t have to all the answers. I just want to know Jesus.
I’m a bit of a nerd. I loved going to Bible college and studying the scripture in a classroom setting. I really do engaging my mind. Over the years I’ve had to learn the balance of both knowing God in my head and loving him in my heart. It’s not all head knowledge and it’s not all touchy-feely. What I walked away with from reading this book is that God is just so much bigger than I can even imagine. I in no way have him figured out. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, I am leery of people who have it all figured out. I’m less likely to debate and fight as I once was. I just want to live a life that speaks of the love of my Savior. I want to give value to people by seeing them and really listening. I want to reflect Jesus. I know I’m not the best as this and I believe I will have to devote my entire lifetime to it because I will never really grasp it.
I could see myself in a lot of ways through Rachel’s processing. I can see how certainty can lead to doubt and how doubt can led to faith. I guess this life wouldn’t take faith if we really had it all figured out. I’m glad that God is bigger than any box we can put him in. I’m glad he made us and gets it. Not the other way around. Despite differences and uncertainty, I have a peace. I’m also really glad that Rachel was honest about her doubts and questions. I believe that the church needs to be a safe place for questions like these to be asked. We might not have all the answers, but I’m pretty sure that’s okay. I think authentically answering “I don’t know, but I know God loves you” is just fine. It might be freeing. I know it is for me!