How to follow Jesus…without being Shane Claiborne (repost)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

This week turned out to be crazier than I’d planned. Today I’m headed to Nashville to shoot the book trailer for A Year of Biblical Womanhood. The next stop is Jackson, Tennessee to speak at the First United Methodist Church women's conference.  In addition, I’ve been reading—and LOVING—your entries for theWoman of Valor essay contest. (Remember, you have until tomorrow to submit yours!) So today I hope you’ll enjoy this repost from 2011, taken from the “most popular” pile. Enjoy! 


So I’ve recently discovered that my Christian faith tends to fall into a sad and predictable cycle, complete with five phases:

Phase 1: My commitment to Jesus is primarily an intellectual one.  He is an idea I believe in, not a person I follow.  

Phase 2: I read through the Gospels again and realize that Jesus doesn’t want me to simply like him; he wants me to follow him.

Phase 3: I buy the latest Shane Claiborne book, read it in two days, and resolve that following Jesus means selling all my things, sleeping with the homeless, and starting a monastic community. I begin looking into the cost of apartments in inner-city Nashville.

Phase 4:  I remember that I have a job, a mortgage, and a spouse (who hasn’t read Shane Claiborne).

Phase 5:  Heavy with guilt and overwhelmed by the insurmountable nature of my own convictions, I give up and revert right back to Phase 1. Following Jesus, it seems, just isn’t realistic.  

This cycle has been repeating itself for about three years now, but I think I may have figured out how to stop it…or at least make the ride a little less bumpy. 

It seems to me that the real problem occurs between Phases 4  and 5, where—upon facing the reality of my actual life and my actual responsibilities—I not only abandon Shane Claiborne’s way of following Jesus, I abandon following Jesus altogether. In short, I make the perfect the enemy of the good. I become paralyzed by my own idealism. 

No more. 

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