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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

A Year of Living Like a Follower of Jesus

The Bible for Normal People

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

In 2007, A. J. Jacobs wrote the bestseller, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, which recounted his attempt to live according to Old Testament law for a solid year. People loved it and it sold like syrup at a dry pancake convention.

In October of this year, we will see the release of Rachel Held Evans’s much anticipated A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master, where Rachel shows us what it looks like for a women to live by the Old Testament codes.

I am waiting for someone to write part three of this trilogy, A Year of Living Like A Follower of Jesus. But don’t look at me. No way. I mean, can you imagine. If I tried doing that for a year—or for six hours—well…I’m getting a stomach ache just thinking about it.

And I don’t mean all that stuff you know you’re supposed to take figuratively—like cutting off your hand or gouging out your eye if they cause you to stumble. I’m talking about all the stuff that you know Jesus meant literally. The stuff he actually expected his followers to do if they wanted to be a part of his movement, what he called the Kingdom of God.

Serve God without drawing attention to yourself;

Give your possessions to those who need them, even if you do, too;

Bless people who flat out hate you and want to destroy you;

Don’t defend yourself at the drop of a hat;

Don’t stand in judgment over others at the drop of a hat;

Respond to cruelty with kindness;

Truly believe that people who absolutely creep you out are of infinite worth, and then act like it;

Don’t worry—about anything;

Control your anger and make peace with others wherever you go rather than perpetuate conflict.

If I tried doing even the first three on this list, I would pop a vein in my head before breakfast and collapse.

Unlike most of the commands in the Old Testament—don’t eat camel meat, keep your bull out of your neighbor’s property, banish someone with crushed testicles, and be sure to collect a dowry from your virgin daughter’s seducer—the things Jesus talked about are actually commanded of his followers, with, if I may guess, the expectation by Jesus that they would form the pattern of our daily lives.

If anyone tried to do what Jesus said we needed to do, why, there’d be little left of us by the end. A life oriented outward—toward God and neighbor, with one’s whole heart—leaves little room for anything else. Mainly, it leaves little room for you. Heck, if you really lived like that, you might as well be dead.

Which, now that I think of it, may be Jesus’ point.

Whoever does not

take up their cross and follow me

is not worthy of me.

Whoever finds their life will lose it,

and whoever loses their life for my sake

will find it.

So, no, Christian publishing world. Not that you asked, but find another author. I want no part of this.

A Year of Pondering Quite Thoughtfully What It Would Look Like If I Actually Followed Jesus, or A Year of Reflecting on How Some Others Seem to Have a Good Grasp on Living Like a Follower of Jesus, that I can handle. But if you want the real deal, no.

Come to think of it, if I lived like Jesus I probably wouldn’t have time or energy for writing a book about it anyway.

 

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