WHAT I LEARNED FROM READING 7
At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to develop my spirituality and live a more meaningful life. At the beginning of Lent, I set out to ingest as much information as I could about how and why people fast. I’ve researched different Web sites, but I haven’t found any information to be as enlightening – or inspiring – as that which I’ve read in 7.
Like Hatmaker, I love my things, my money, my freedoms, my privileges, my comfortable lifestyle. But sometimes I can’t help but to think about the world’s marginalized people: those who live in poverty, those with painful or terminal illnesses, those who live in loneliness and fear. I think of them, sometimes, when I’m not thinking about my family, my job (or currently, the lack thereof), my possessions, my social calendar (hey, I used to have one), and the like.
Also like Hatmaker, I contemplate why I have been blessed with a relatively easy lifestyle while others seem to have been skipped over almost completely by God’s blessings. I can’t help but to feel some sort of tension and uneasiness about my advantages, about my place on the spectrum of God’s favor.
I guess I figured that it’s because God wanted me to have this life, have these things. Because I’m a good person, mostly. I pray, sometimes. I go to church, occasionally. I help the needy (I mean, I do donate my unwanted clothing to Goodwill, and don’t file it as a tax write-off). I went to Catholic school so I know about Jesus and the Bible and stuff. So I’m a pretty decent Christian, right?
(This is not to say that I thought that impoverished, sick, and abused people got the lives they deserved. I just figured maybe it was God’s plan for them. They were just dealt different cards than I for some arbitrary reason. Luck of the draw, perhaps. Or maybe God knew they could shoulder their burdens better than I could if I had the same troubles.)
In a nutshell, reading 7 let me know that I. Completely. Missed. The. Point. Now I have a new idea about what it means to fast. About what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. About what it means to be a true Christian. Real evangelism transcends sermons, preaching, talking, words. It requires action.
In the first chapter of 7, Hatmaker wrote, “I am pierced by Gandhi’s astute observation: ‘I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.'” I am the new, self-serving American Christian that has a distorted perspective on how to interpret and implement God’s Word.
WHY I RECOMMEND YOU READ 7
You may have attended a Christian church somewhere in North America, and witnessed the severe hypocrisy that it enabled and perpetuated. Or you may be of a non-Christian faith, with a different or contradictory set of tenets or beliefs. You may even be agnostic or atheist.
Whatever the case, I don’t recommend reading 7 as a means of religious conversion. I just want you to read it so that you may see what a true Christian looks like (chances are, you don’t know many). And so that you may see that within even the most stubborn of us – the self-serving, hypocritical, American Christians – is the potential to change, to do what is morally right, to “be the change [we] wish to see in the world” (Gandhi again).
You should read this book because being a righteous and good person is a necessary yet nondenominational, possibly even nonsecular concept. We could all use a break from the fast-paced and excessive American lifestyle. Everyone would benefit from a few more lessons in simplicity, fellowship, and humility. (We could add sacrifice, obedience, submission, and a few others to this list as well.)
It all boils down to this: Jen Hatmaker and her book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess are enlightening, inspiring, and potentially life-changing. And we could all stand to be better people.