Bible Gateway interviewed Max Davis (@maxdavisbooks) about his book, When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does (Worthy Publishing, 2016).
What’s the story behind the unusual title?
Max Davis: When I came face-to-face with Jesus living inside a beautiful green-eyed brunette, it shattered my preconceived image of what Christianity was all about. She didn’t smell religious or churchy. She smelled like Jesus. 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “…through us [Christ] diffuses the fragrance of his knowledge in every place.” This young lady diffused the fragrance of Jesus.
Though I was rebellious, arrogant, and wanted nothing to do with the hyper-legalistic religion I had been brought up under, the Jesus living inside her drew me to himself. I wanted—had to have—what she possessed: incredible peace, a strange power that wasn’t intimidated by me, and a genuine joy. As a result, I knelt down in a shower in my home and invited Jesus into my life.
It wasn’t spectacular. I didn’t get goose bumps or feel electricity, yet something supernatural took place. When I got up, all I can say is, I was a changed person. From that moment on, Jesus became my best friend and nearly 40 years later we’re closer than ever. Only the living Jesus could have kept me through the years. Looking back, I know God is real because I’ve seen him do so much.
What do you mean when you write “the sacred in the ordinary”?
Max Davis: As born-again believers, when we truly grasp that Jesus is inside us and live from that reality, it changes how we view everything from the mundane to the difficult. Instead of going to church, for example, we understand that we are the church. We’re Jesus’ hands and feet. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, not some building. Thus, making everywhere we go potentially as sacred as the chapel—the supermarket, the office, the classroom, the health club, the dialysis center, etc.
Because Jesus is present with us, it grieves him when we sin as well. When we understand the reality of the indwelling Christ, it affects the way we conduct our lives. Jesus’ presence in us can transform atmospheres, giving off his fragrance, bringing peace, offering grace and hope to a hurting world. It may sound simple, but the truth is: most Christians say they believe, but live as though Jesus is still in the tomb. He’s not! He’s very much alive today showing up in ordinary people, doing extraordinary and sometimes even supernatural things.
What’s the biblical basis of your book’s premise that Jesus is fully present in everyday life?
Max Davis: One of the central pillars of the Apostle Paul’s teachings was that Jesus is risen from the dead because Jesus personally appeared to him on the road to Damascus. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul states that over 500 people, most of whom were still alive, all of the apostles, and finally himself, were eyewitnesses of the risen Christ. Then, in verses 15-20 Paul says if Jesus is not risen that he and all the other apostles are liars because they preached the resurrection. In other words, Paul is saying, (my paraphrase) “Come on guys. Why would we lie to you and make up such a story? Remember, I had set out to you kill Christians. What caused my dramatic turnaround? I saw Jesus. No, we’re not lying!”
After establishing the resurrection, another central pillar of Paul’s teaching was that if you are a genuine believer, the risen Jesus is inside you and that fact should impact the way you live. In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says, “…Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? …” (NKJV).
How do we test ourselves? We understand, believe, and embrace the promises of God. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In Him (Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…” When we trusted the gospel and believed, the Holy Spirit (the spirit of Jesus) came inside us. It’s a promise.
Now, we simply let Christ live his life through us. When he takes residence in us, he starts moving around the furniture. “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus in us is our hope for true life. He becomes our purpose. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27).
“…But you know him, because he [Jesus] lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:17). This passage indicates that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are one. Before Jesus went to the cross (John 14), He told his disciples it was better if he went because he could then send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, that would indwell them. Before Jesus was walking with them, but after the resurrection he would be inside them, which was far better. Because Jesus is in us, we can literally have his mind (1 Corinthians 2:16).
Describe one of your favorite stories that you recount in When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette.
Max Davis: I was walking on the Mississippi River levee one day, trying desperately to finish the last chapter of this book. I often take long walks with my trusty clipboard in hand, writing down my thoughts. Once I get them down, I go back to my office and transcribe my notes on the computer. On this particular day, while walking, I passed a homeless guy on a bench. When I did, the Jesus inside me said, “Give him your shoes.”
Now, you have to understand, these weren’t just any shoes. They were $175 special order hiking boots. I loved them and did not want to give them away. Besides, what would I do with no shoes? I had an important book to finish and would be barefoot. So, I kept walking, attempting to ignore the Spirit’s prompting. It was no use.
“I said, ‘Give him your shoes.’” This was the voice of Jesus that I’ve come to know after nearly 40 years of relationship with him. I was quite familiar. This was not a suggestion. “Give…him…your…shoes.” “Ok,” I said, throwing my hands up in surrender. Turning around, I walked back to the homeless guy.
“God told me to give you my shoes,” I said. He looked up at me with a shocked expression on his face but never said a word. I took off my shoes, knelt down, and began putting them on his worn-out feet. He had remained silent, eyes as big as silver dollars. Suddenly, he burst into tears. “I can’t believe you’re giving me your shoes, man!” he cried. “You’ve given me hope!”
“I’m only doing what I was told. Can I tell you about Jesus?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. I did and ended up praying with him. It was a sacred encounter and became the last chapter in the book.
Explain how Christians should let “the living Jesus live in them and through them to love people the way God does.” And what role should the Bible have in that process?
Max Davis: Practicing the reality of Jesus in us happens through faith and relationship. I want to make sure to emphasize that our relationship with Jesus is not based on a feeling but on confidence and trust in his promises in Scripture. Promises like, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20 ESV).
If we live by faith, trusting what the Bible says regardless of our feelings, we will at times experience great feelings, but it’s the truth of God’s Word that sets us free. The Bible is a supernatural book. It’s alive. “For the word of God is living and powerful…” says Hebrews 4:12. When we immerse ourselves in it, a transformation takes place. Jesus is in us. He speaks to us primarily through the Bible.
Sometimes we’ll have promptings—divine guidance—in our spirits, but they’ll never contradict Scripture. Over time, as our relationship grows, we get to know Jesus more intimately and recognize his voice. The more we’re obedient to Scripture and the Spirit’s inner promptings, the more we’ll know him.
In the Garden, Adam and Eve walked in daily fellowship with God. The Fall brought sin into the picture and broke that fellowship. Jesus was the bridge of reconciliation making it possible for us to enter into intimate relationship with God again. The Christian life is about a relationship with God through Jesus, who, by the way, is God.
What do you mean when you write “God’s perfect will is more about being than doing?”
Max Davis: If Jesus is in us, our first purpose in life is to become more like him and then to love people like God does. God is more interested in developing our character than great outward works. He’s preparing us for something bigger than this world. God is training us for eternity with him. We’re going to have a purpose and an assignment in Heaven. This world is a spiritual boot camp.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV). What is the “good” that all things are working together for? The next verse tells us. “For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” (Romans 8:29).
God is working all things in our lives, including the painful and difficult things, for the purpose of making us like Jesus. Our first calling is to become like Jesus. With this in mind, a person bound to a hospital bed, extolling the faithfulness of God can be doing just as an important work as the missionary in the third-world country. “My children, with whom I travail again in birth until Christ is formed in you” (Galatians 4:19); “…as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Works are important, but must be an outgrowth of our becoming. Whether it’s an assignment to write a book, give a homeless person your shoes, or love your spouse in the way Jesus loves, it all happens as an overflow from a daily relationship with him. “I am the vine,” said Jesus. “You are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Fruit and good works are birthed out of an authentic relationship with Jesus, out of abiding in him. Everything else is just religious noise.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Max Davis: I absolutely love Bible Gateway! It’s my #1 Bible tool. Seriously: I don’t know what I’d do without it. Whenever I’m writing a chapter, I have the link open for easy Scripture reference and scholarly commentary. I almost always read the passage I’m researching in several versions and then pick the one most applicable.
Bio: Max Davis is the author of over 20 books, including The Insanity of Unbelief: A Journalist’s Journey from Belief to Skepticism to Deep Faith. He’s been featured in USA TODAY and Publishers Weekly, and has appeared on The Today Show and The 700 Club. he holds degrees in journalism and biblical studies and is a sought-after speaker for churches and organizations worldwide. He and his wife, Alanna, live in Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.
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