Book Club Channel
Sacrilege: Read an Excerpt
Jesus did none of this. He was, however, without question, the most appropriately sacrilegious revolutionary of all time, and his call for anyone who follows is to be like him.
The world needs a tidal wave of sacrilegious apprentices.
Jesus the Iconoclast
Jesus was the true iconoclast. Icon means image or idol. Clast means to break. Every word Jesus said and act he did smashed the spiritual, religious, traditional, and pop idols of his day. False kingdoms were exposed, false motives were laid open, false teachings were confronted, and every person he touched came away confused, intrigued, perplexed, or changed. He was not liked by everyone, but he was loved by the right people—the people with eyes to see and ears to hear fresh truth.
Whether he was challenging people's view of Scripture, hanging with prostitutes and half-breeds, letting his disciples eat without ceremonially washing their hands, providing wine to guests of a wedding bash who had already partied too much, or touching lepers, Jesus went against almost every religious norm and won the hearts of the heathen. His ability to de-sacredize the sacred (when doing so was important to the purposes of God) magnetized people to him, and his followers were expected and empowered to do the same.
The real Jesus was the ultimate sacrilegious leader. Therefore, adopting a sacrilegious approach to faith may be just what the doctor ordered, particularly in a world that is ailing to see a real Jesus again. Just as Jesus turned over the junk in the temple (see Matt. 21:12-13), so we have to begin turning over the junk of our religious training. We need to get to the purity of the gospel again. This book is about recovering, or maybe discovering for the first time, the Jesus you'd naturally and sincerely want to follow and invite others to follow as well.
When we picture people converting to Christianity, we probably envision a doctrine-heavy preacher imploring people to respond to the spoken word, walk the aisle to the altar, and receive Christ into their hearts. Although this is an experience many of us hold dear in our own conversion story, we must realize that the first people that followed Jesus weren't following doctrine, theology, or the spoken word. They were following the incarnate Word, the man, Jesus the person. They didn't know anything about the cross, sin, the need for a substitutionary payment, or all the doctrine we've added on since he lived among us. They started with him alone and learned the rest along the way.
Jesus the Likable
Remember this key piece of historical truth: common people loved Jesus! What's more, they liked him.
One day while I was driving with my daughter McKenna, she said, "Dad, I love you." I reached over and clutched her leg, as I always do. Then I heard even better words: "I also like you a lot." Most parents would give their left thumbnail to have their kids respect, revere, and honor them. Nothing's wrong with that, but there's something even better: their desire to be with you and possibly to be a little like you.
If you let it, that's where sacrilege is going to take you.
People revered Jesus back then, and many still do today. No, not everyone, but some pretty significant masses still think he's the most inspiring man to have walked the earth. We have to remember that back in Jesus's time, before they really knew who he was and what he was doing in the world, the average Jacob and Martha liked Jesus. Similar to when you meet a person you click with at a party, they were amazed at his accessibility and his acceptance of everyone. Notice that the people who did not like Jesus—the Pharisees, for example—were people in power. Common folk couldn't get enough of him, though. They were surprised by his candor, honesty, riddles, and wit. They marveled and were sometimes even intimidated by his blatant disregard for the rules and regulations of the day, although they must have secretly loved it. I often imagine the children sticking their tongues out at the disciples, who had tried to shoo them away, as they sprinted toward the open arms of Christ.
Hugh Halter is a church planter, pastor, consultant, and missionary to the US. He is the national director of Missio and is the lead architect of Adullam, a congregational network of missional communities in Denver, Colorado. He speaks extensively across the country encouraging and equipping pastors in incarnational ministry and missional leadership.