Why Being 'Upended' Is a Good Thing: Slowing Down to Worship

Authors Discuss How Jesus Upends Tradition, and How to Make Time for God

Erik Lokkesmoe and Jedd Medefind have decided to turn things upside down with their new book "Upended: How Following Jesus Remakes Your Words & World." The two authors took time to speak with The Christian Post about their book and why having your life "upended" isn't such a bad thing.

The Christian Post: Where did the idea for "Upended" come from?

Medefind: The book flowed from a friendship. We'd both been committed Christians for most of our lives. But we shared a troubling sense that the grand truths of our faith so often felt deeply disconnected from our work (in politics at the time) and marriages, friendships and most other daily activities. So we plunged together into learning, or rather re-learning, how to connect and love and
influence as apprentices to Jesus amidst ordinary life.

Lokkesmoe: The title "Upended" spotlights how Jesus so often flips our assumptions. It's subversive, really. Well-asked questions start revolutions. Stories give meaning to facts. Touchable ideas cut through the clutter. Taking time alone is the only way to offer others something they don't already have. The Bible describes believers as peculiar people – and my desire is to see the Church upend the world's assumptions, to be peculiar people who dare to do the thing that no one would imagine. That was certainly true of Jesus.

CP: You write that small steps can lead to big change. What are the most important "small steps" that we can take?

Medefind: We all imagine that "big" decisions most shape our lives-choices like where we'll live, whom we'll marry, what jobs we'll take. Those are significant, of course. But what really molds our relationships and our impact on others and the person we become flows mostly from small choices. It's listening attentively while everyone else just talks. Being fully present to others. Asking good questions and telling meaningful stories. Taking regular times of Sabbath and solitude. When we become an apprentice to Jesus in these things, the trajectory of our life fundamentally shifts.

Lokkesmoe: The rising generation is very inspirational – you see it most in the causes they adopt. That's great. We need that. But our ascent to grand ambitions and goals can often distract us from the small, subtle, and simple ways of just loving those in front of us. "Think small" should be our mantra.

It's often the unnoticed acts that make the biggest impact on people – taking the time out of a busy day to listen to a colleague, giving attention to your kids as the iPhone rings, and so on. The most important thing I can do in my life is slow down and create margins with my money, my time, and my attention. "Slowing down" is an act of worship in 2012.

CP: You add personal asides throughout the book- why was that important to you?

Lokkesmoe: We didn't want the book to be all about the abstract or feel removed from our real life struggles to follow Jesus. We wanted to make it concrete and authentic. It was the hardest part of the book to write, as it meant self-examination of our past, of our hearts. It's easier to look outward. I hope the readers see that we are not approaching the topic as experts but as fellow sojourners.

CP: If we're oversaturated by messages, how can we turn them off and learn to tune into God?

Medefind: Virtually everyone today lives awash in a sea of activity, noise and distraction. And here's the simple truth: we can never offer others more than an echo of this static if we never take time to escape it. Just like Jesus and all who've apprenticed to him over the centuries, we need to make a regular practice of cutting ourselves off from the noise, especially technology.

For us, that includes time every day alone in prayer and reflection. It's also weekly Sabbath rest from the activities that typically drive us. And also less frequent, extended periods in solitude as well.

Lokkesmoe: We like to say that communicating today feels like a car alarm in a mall parking lot. You may hear the noise but you don't pay any attention. Seth Godin says it's the most cluttered marketplace in history, and it's true. … We practice "No Screen Sundays" where we turn off the phones and televisions. We also have cut back on our social media engagements … I want my life to look a lot like Central Park in the middle of New York City– by that I mean, I need a safe, sacred place that is set apart from the chaos and noise of life. It's there where grace is made more visible and tangible.

"Upended" is available from Passio publishers at www.upended.org.