Christians Don’t Own Jesus

Over the last 9 1/2 years, I’ve been rather active on Twitter. While the frequency of my tweeting has varied, I’ve never walked away from the platform for an extended period of time.

After 14,200 tweets I was surprised to find that something I tweeted yesterday has been liked more than any of my other tweets.

So What?

The tweet is quote from page 157 of Barbara Brown Taylor’s new book: Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others  

I’m pleased to know that more than 500 people have liked this tweet and more than 65 have retweeted it.

I invite you to read these 39 words penned by Barbara Brown Taylor one more time, to consider their meaning and relevance, and to discuss your thoughts with at least one person (if you are ready to really engage this quote, consider discussing your thoughts with at least one person who is not a Christian).

I am struck by the realization that Christians don’t own Jesus any more than we own God. He has sheep who do not belong to our fold, and when he is walking with them, they see him very differently.

For those seeking additional context the above quote follows the words below. The students she is referencing are those who participated in her Religion 101 course – an undergraduate survey of world religions.

By the time the students have finished six class sessions on Islam, they know how much Jews, Christians, and Muslims have in common: not just Abraham, but also Moses, the commandments, the prophets, the holy city of Jerusalem, charity, fasting, pilgrimage, prayer, sacred texts, sacred washing, justice, free will, care for neighbors, angels, the coming messiah, the day of judgment, the resurrection of the dead, and sooner or later participation in the eternal life of the one God. Everything on that long list belongs at the center of what the three religions share.

The biggest surprise for everyone is that Christians and Muslims both revere Jesus. Muslims call hi Isa, believing him to be both prophet and messiah. Christians believe he shares divine status with God, which neither Jews nor Muslims can affirm, but Muslims honor him as an exemplar of what it means to truly surrender to God. Contrary to popular opinion, Muslims and Christians can both wear I heart Jesus” T-shirts and mean it.

Letting this sink in for the first time . . .

Barbara Brown Taylor, Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others, p.164-5

Note: I’ll share my thoughts on the book as a whole on April 1 as part of my April book recommendations. I will, however, disclose now that it’s one of the best books I’ve read in quite awhile.


  1. Kathryn says:

    And that one tweet led me to your bio, which led me here. I’m a seeker living in Arlington. I’ve bookmarked your blog, am following your Twitter account, and look forward to reading many more posts.

  2. Kathryn, thanks for taking a moment to share. It’s great to meet a neighbor and fellow seeker.