In 2013, Judah Smith, lead pastor at the nondenominational 7,000-member City Church in Seattle, wanted to get people around him talking about Jesus. So he wrote Jesus Is _______: Find a New Way to Be Human (Thomas Nelson). Two weeks after the book was published, it hit the New York Times bestseller list.
Bestseller status notwithstanding, Smith thought that people were slightly intimidated about reading a whole book about Jesus, so he decided to engage people in a conversation about life and love. Life Is_________ . : God’s Illogical Love Will Change Your Existence (Thomas Nelson, Mar.) lets readers fill in the blank for themselves.
What prompted you to write this book now?
We’re all out there trying to make it every day, often just sucking air. We’re all asking, what is truly important? Why am I here on this planet? What’s going to bring me satisfaction? My wife, Chelsea, and I have been married for 15 years, and it hit me that the love we share for each other and for others is like God’s love for all people. Life is to be loved and to love.
Why the blank space in the book’s title?
Christianity is so often a monologue, and I’m not interested in that. The blank space is meant to be a conversation starter. This is how I would fill in the blank; how do you fill it in? The most important word for me to fill in the blank with is love. True loving begins with being loved, and life finds true meaning and purpose in God’s love for human beings.
What are the ways that God’s love is illogical?
We’re all taught that life is governed by cause and effect, which in many ways, of course, makes perfect sense. God’s love doesn’t fit into the logic of cause and effect, though. God loves us unconditionally, and we can’t cause God to love us less because of anything we do. Religion has promoted the idea that God will love us only if we follow certain rules and act a certain way, but God loves broken people and damaged goods. The hardest challenge for us is to accept God’s unconditional love.
What lessons do you want readers to take from your book?
Well, this is the kind of book people can put by their toilet and pick it up and start in the middle and maybe get a thought for the day or some kind of inspiration. I hope it inspires readers to love and be loved, enjoy God to the fullest, trust God and be at peace with God, themselves, and with others. Life is painful, difficult, and hard, and I get that, but love and peace are available through God. I want people to know that they’re loved, and they matter.