Jim Palmer’s book Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God has serendipitously become a timely landmark in my spiritual journey with God. An unveiling took place right before my eyes. It’s as if someone wiped away layers of tradition and opened up a world of possibilities, yet, in keeping with God’s truth.
In all honesty, when I read that the author was described as an Emergent pastor on the back cover of the book, I was holding my breath as I turned each page. Why? Well, I was expecting some sort of radical, divergent thinking. The truth is that I’m not versed on the movement. I’m actually glad I wasn’t before reading his book. My reading would have been even more biased. There’s much I need to learn but I’m from the persuasion that glares at new ideas with skepticism, as far as they concern challenging long held views of Christianity. The possibility of heretical teachings infiltrating the church is a viable concern for me and for many.
However, Palmer wasn’t bent on overhauling Christianity to push new ideas. On the contrary, he challenges each of us to seek a raw, organic knowledge of and intimacy with God. His writing style was down to earth, engaging, comical, reflective and revelatory. The book wasn’t written in a standard preachy form but more like a personal testimony of one man’s journey; the kind that says, Look what God has done in my life. Look for God everywhere He can be found. Don’t dismiss anyone that walks into your life because they don’t hold the same set of beliefs and practices you do. God is at work in each of our lives.
Reading Divine Nobodies is like putting on a fresh pair of eyeglasses while unhinging the theological box we’ve put God into. God is so much bigger than we can imagine and the manner in which He chooses to work in each of our lives is incomprehensible. Much of our thinking has alienated us from an authentic relationship with the God of the universe and each other. Caught up in the whirlwind of do’s and don’ts, you miss God’s still, small voice.
Palmer’s thoughts were resonating with something deep within me that knows everything isn’t as it should be in Christendom. Traditions of men creep their way into church. It takes people who are willing to stand up and speak up to help extract religious thoughts and impositions that stifle a vibrant, flowing, power-induced walk with Jesus. Following the Master and loving His heart is key. To love what He loves and walk as He walked is true religion. Loving the orphans, the widows, and if I may add, the homeless, the aids patient, the divorcee, isn’t something we do Sunday mornings. It’s a lifestyle. Living our life to its fullest extent and embracing who we were created to be in Christ is the journey.
I recently changed my Facebook religious view from Christian to Jesus Follower. Not because I’m rebelling against the descriptor but because the former is a label of what I am, while the latter describes what I do. I want to be a doer of the Word of God. I’m following. I may stumble, I may fall but at least I’m moving forward and trying my best to follow in Jesus’ footsteps; to be a divine nobody.
We don’t have to agree on everything but each of us should be receptive to learning from others. Of the utmost significance for me was that the contents of Palmer’s book challenged my walk with Jesus. That’s more than good enough for me. That’s life transforming. Even though we haven’t met in person, I consider Jim Palmer a friend I’ve met on the journey.