Timothy Michael Kurek grippingly shares his journey from judgmental, Pharisaical Christian to genuine Christ-follower desiring only love God with his heart, soul, and mind, and to love his neighbor as himself. Any neighbor regardless of label and history.
Tim Kurek lives his story in The Cross in the Closet
He faced his inner Pharisee and God used his conviction about his religious self-righteousness to call him into a one-of-a-kind calling: to walk in the shoes of gay people by living as a gay man. He chose to do this "just" for a year. He followed Jesus' instruction to go the extra mile, turn the other cheek and give the extra tunic. No, Tim went even farther. He took up his cross and followed Jesus, right into the streets to the "tax collectors" and "sinners. He chose to live with and love the very people he'd learned to marginalize, distrust and detest...the people Jesus commands us to love as he commands us to love all people.
Following Tim on his journey, you can feel his discomfort, experience his doubt and inner conflict, and relax with him as he discovers who he really is. As his gay friends say repeatedly, he is a man with a good, kind heart. He dared to face his prejudice, live outside his comfort zone and venture into a world he'd hated. He learned more about God and the true Jesus from people outside the church. The same people Jesus hung out with while he was on earth.
The Cross in the Closet grabs you from the first sentence. Through well-written short stories of Tim's experiences, he takes the reader along on his journey. Alternately liberating and deeply upsetting, Kurek's story challenges the reader to evaluate their own beliefs and prejudices. As he writeson page 72,
Experiencing the other side of prejudice is more painful than anticipated. Worse, I feel as though I am constantly being faced with my own face in the mirror: the image of a Pharisee who has not thought to look past labels and orientations to see people for who they really are. Had I not gone through with this experiment, I probably would have always believed that lie that I really am better than the other...
Finding myself in Tim's story
I had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up with SpeakEasy to review Christian books on my blog. My ulterior motive was having my own book, The Story Lives, as part of the review process. The first book I picked was The Cross in the Closet. I had no idea what it was about.
The Cross in the Closet messed with me in virtually every chapter. Though I didn't agree with all of Tim's conclusions, it definitely challenged me to look at my own Pharisaical judgments…I realized I too have an inner Pharisee. I too am tempted to believe the lie that I'm better than the other. Yet I know better. After all, I just wrote The Story Lives, a book about living our unique stories for Jesus, loving God and others. Tim's quest lines up with the message of The Story Lives: Be you, the God made you to be. Love God. Love your neighbor, all neighbors! Tim met himself and the real Jesus. He desires to live a life of love, his story! This journey changed him. His book, if you let it, will change you.