On this continuing journey of a thousand steps and more, on earth hand in hand with Jesus, in the embrace of my Father, I find peace of indescribable beauty.
My journey with Jesus is difficult for many to understand; for Jews, for Muslims, for atheists – even for Christians. I subscribe to a loving, grace-filled theology. To me, unconditional love for neighbors, for enemies, for immigrants, for refugees – in other words, unconditional acceptance – is a stronger and more accurate worldview than the opposite.
When I read the red-letter words in the Gospels section of the New Testament in a book called, The Bible, I see hope, compassion and inclusion. Those four narratives – three first-person, eye-witness accounts (Matthew, Luke and John), and one second-hand report (Mark) based on his close relationship with the apostle Peter – inform the basis of my certainty about Jesus’ words and intent.
To me, unconditional love for neighbors, for enemies, for immigrants, for refugees is a stronger and more accurate worldview than the opposite.
Even though each apostle was an individual of a different age, came from a different background and wrote for a different audience, there are enough similarities to gain a clear sense of the character and worldview of the One they wrote about.
While now I have settled into my faith like a comfortable, old robe, before I made up my mind to place my foot onto that first step, I read books like, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace and Simply Christian by N.T. Wright.
At the beginning of my journey, along with the gospel narratives, I read Love Wins by Rob Bell, Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli, and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Later, I read Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning and Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne. These all made sense to me in terms of both the beingness and doingness of following Jesus (even though some authors are considered heretical by some Christians).
While I am on this journey, taking step after step to mature my faith, I believe the greatest story ever told is the story of unconditional love and radical grace. It is the story of Micah 6:8 and Mark 12:30-31:
“The Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength…equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
For a more comprehensive list of radical and possibly heretical books about God’s unconditional love and scandalous grace, take another step on your journey and visit my list of Treasured Books. (Hint: The last menu tab at the top of the site.)