Jesus, God in Sandals


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

It’s Tuesday! Today’s excerpt from Evolving in Monkey Town comes from Chapter 8, entitled “Jesus, God in Sandals.” 

The most startling thing I noticed as I grew more acquainted with the Gospels was that Jesus had a very different view of faith than the one to which I was accustomed. I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in my late teens or early twenties, it was as if Jesus packed his bags and moved from my heart into my head. He became an idea, a sort of theological mechanism by which salvation was attained. I described him in terms ofatonementlogosthe object of my faith, and absolute truth.  He was something I agreed to, not someone I followed…

But Jesus rarely framed discipleship in terms of intellectual assent to a set of propositional statements. He didn’t walk new converts down the Romans Road or ask Peter to draft a doctrinal statement before giving him the keys to the kingdom. His method of evangelism varied from person to person and generally involved a dramatic change of lifestyle rather than a simple change of mind. To Jesus, “by faith alone” did not mean “by belief alone.” To Jesus, faith was invariably linked to obedience…

...Needless to say, that was a strange summer. It wasn’t the summer that brought an end to my doubt, but it was the summer I encountered a different Jesus, a Jesus who requires more from me than intellectual assent and emotional allegiance; a Jesus who associated with sinners and infuriated the religious; a Jesus who broke the rules and refused to cast the first stone; a Jesus who gravitated toward sick people and crazy people, homeless people and hopeless people; a Jesus who preferred story to exposition and metaphor to syllogism; a Jesus who answered questions with more questions, and demands for proof with demands for faith…a Jesus who healed each person differently and saved each person differently; a Jesus who had no list of beliefs to check off, no doctrinal statements to sign, no surefire way to tell who was “in” and who was “out”; a Jesus who loved after being betrayed, healed after being hurt, and forgave while being nailed to a tree; a Jesus who asked his disciples to do the same…

It occurred to me that if my faith managed to survive all of these doubts then this radical rabbi, this God in sandals, would require more from me than ever before. This radical Jesus wanted to live not only in my heart and in my head but also in my hands, as I fed the hungry, reached out to my enemies, healed the sick, and comforted the lonely.  Being a Christian, it seemed, isn’t about agreeing to a certain way; it is about embodying a certain way. It is about living as an incarnation of Jesus, as Jesus lived as an incarnation of God. It is about being Jesus…in tennis shoes. 

How has your relationship with Jesus changed over the years?

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