I found Sarah through A Deeper Story, a Christian site.
The first article of Sarah’s I’d read was a post on A Deeper Story, and it was (still is) one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It left me in tears. After reading the article, I found her website and began reading everything I could. I’ve just finished reading her book, Jesus Feminist, and simply cannot say enough wonderful things about this incredible woman. I will be eternally grateful for Sarah’s participation in this interview series.
Sarah Bessey is the author of “Jesus Feminist”, a disarming and beautiful invitation to the Kingdom of God waiting on the other side of the Church’s gender debates. She is an award-winning blogger at www.sarahbessey.com, an editor at A Deeper Story, a contributor for SheLoves Magazine, and a passionate advocate for global women’s justice issues. One of those happy-clappy Jesus-followers, Sarah is a recovering know-it-all, a bit too obsessed with British television, and a bookworm. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and their three tinies.
How would you describe Christianity?
I would call us the people of the resurrection.
Do you see the Church heading in a particular direction?
I think the Church is in its usual 500-year-shift right now. So just as the Great Schism, and then the Great Reformation came about, we’re in the midst of the great emergence. The old remains – it often does – but something new is being born, too. I see the church centre shifting from the west to the south and the east, for instance. It gives me so much hope.
Do you believe there’s a gap between what Christianity is (or what it has come to represent) and what it should be?
I think that depends on your context or location or focus, perhaps. Sometimes I can be quite convinced that there is a vast difference between the Church as it exists now and the life of Jesus – but then I also see so many pockets of hope and freedom rising up. I think from a pop culture perspective, Christianity is often synonymous with a particular political stance but that’s not surprising. Fundamentalism or extremists usually get the air time. But the funny thing is that even the world knows that this grates against the teachings of Jesus. In fact, a lot of times people love Jesus but have a hard time with Christians. And yet I see and experience a resurgence of Gospel-centred people and communities who are quietly after the business of the Kingdom without a lot of attention or fanfare.
How would you like to see Christianity progress over the next generation?
This is such a great question. I think we’re already shifting to becoming more inclusive and affirming. Very hopeful. I think we’ll continue to see women’s rights and dignities being affirmed and celebrated and protected. I would love to see a shift towards humility, assuming the posture of learners and disciples. I see the end of the whole “get saved and get out of hell” theology and movement towards discipleship and a more holistic view of salvation (for instance, not just what we are saved “from” but what we are saved “towards”). I would hope that above all, the Church would get out of bed with the empire mentality. We are far too pre-occupied with power and money.
In your opinion, what (or who) is the biggest motivating factor in the younger generation’s faith?
I think authenticity is a big driver. I truly believe that Jesus is enough and so compelling and beautiful to us, too. I feel sometimes like if we can shake off the trappings, all the frippery and finery and really get to who Jesus is and then apprenticing ourselves to his way of life, that authenticity and simplicity is very attractive. I think that the younger generation has a profound sense of social justice, too, and a deep quest for meaning. I see so many young people who deeply desire for their lives to matter. This is so encouraging to me because they find their selfishness empty already.
What is an encouraging trend you’ve seen in the Church recently?
So many encouraging trends! I love the rising up of women in particular. I see this a lot in my vocation, perhaps, so it’s front and centre in my mind. But I see such a shift in the narrative for women in the church. Not only in terms of “women in ministry or leadership” but even a deep shift in women’s relationships and wholeness, as well as a shift towards justice and shalom and peace-making
You have a new book out called “Jesus Feminist”, and you mention on your website (sarahbessey.com) this includes “working for justice for women.” In 2014, are you receiving any negative pushback from the Christian community regarding this mission?
Absolutely, but to be honest, I’m not that fussed about it. There is too much freedom spreading and rising. It seems people think about injustice “out there” or “over there” but not in their own churches or neighbourhoods. The truth is that it always matters, whether a woman is silenced in India or in Indiana. And it’s important to work for justice, to advocate for each other, to redemptively move with God in every corner of humanity.
Do you do anything specific to live Christ out in your daily life?
I think of my life as that of a disciple. I try to move through my life as an apprentice of Jesus and his way of life and ministry. And I’ve got a long ways to go.
What steps can individuals take today to show the love of Christ in their lives?
I think the life of Jesus is the place to begin and end. I would always encourage us to look to Jesus and his life and teachings as the shaping of our lives. Then to live that out in our very regular lives right now, moving through our lives as disciples. I think it matters and I think we often find the line between the “secular” and the “sacred” blurred by love.
Do you currently support any movements or organizations our readers should know more about?
I’m on the board of Help One Now, a small grassroots organization that is focused on orphan prevention through community development and anti-trafficking measures in Haiti, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. I also support Heartline Ministries which is a ministry in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, because they have an excellent midwifery practice with antenatal and postnatal care for Haitian women to be able to raise their babies well. And then I also locally support Mercy Ministries of Canada which is a free-of-charge residential program for young women with life-controlling issues.
Wow. I hope and pray you got as much out of this interview as I have.
How would you describe Christianity? How do you live Christ out in your daily life? Leave a comment sharing your thoughts!
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