Within Charismatic circles we can often have the tendency to describe and “advertise” Jesus as the answer. But does this sanitise Him too much? From my own experience, He continues to be a question that calls my faith to become a pilgrimage; a journey, a cyclic course of development and change, upturning and settlement.
Or, as Brian Zahnd recently expressed it, “We have Jesus. We lose Jesus. We seek Jesus. We find Jesus. We rethink Jesus”. And round and round we go.
Within Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey shares her own experience of this journey: unfolding the ups and downs of rummaging through our faith in the intent of sorting out what needs to rediscovered, reclaimed and recycled from what is just refuse. As someone who has also found themselves consistently on this road-trip for the past five and a half years, I’ve taken great encouragement from Sarah’s words.
As a consequence of openly and honestly expressing her struggles with faith, scripture and church, I firmly believe that Bessey has produced one of the best books about what it means to be part of the church and a follower of Jesus. Mainly because her account is so earthy and human, while remaining Spirit infused and animated. She tenderly emphasises the fallibility of our humanity, whilst consistently leaning into the faithfulness of the Divine.
Sarah’s tone reminds me of Philip Yancey; there’s an understanding and empathy that is carried across which can only be birthed from genuinely wrestling with oneself. Her words are free from condescension and cynicism, whilst still calling us to listen and reconsider and acknowledge. Because of that, I’m more than happy to sit and listen to her, knowing that I’m receiving truth and wisdom and perspective that aren’t going to be served with a side order of condemnation and an injection of guilt. Truth, when dispensed this way, still comes with conviction, but of a more powerful sort that uncorks something that is already inside of me. To use a film metaphor to describe this, Out Of Sorts pulls off the kind of Inception that DiCaprio & Co could only dream of (no pun intended); I’m convicted reading Sarah’s words, not because they force conviction into me externally and unnaturally, but because her honesty draws my own deep insecurities out into the open.
She might not consider herself a theologian, but don’t discredit yourself too soon, Sarah—you’ve done a fantastic job here in articulating the meandering trail of following Jesus.
This is a highly recommended read!
My hope is that you will read it. For those of us who feel “Out Of Sorts”, you’ll draw great wisdom from this. For those of you who don’t, maybe it will help you come to terms with the truth that we all are, in a way, and that’s ok. Being “Out of Sorts” is part and parcel of what it means to believe.
(Ps. In case you wondering—my favourite chapters were, 7. The People Of God: On Church, and 10. Obey the Sadness: On Grief and Lament)
Tristan Sherwin is the author of Love: Expressed