04 January 2006

Even for the Likes of These - Book Review of Blue Like Jazz

I just read a book called Blue Like Jazz by a guy I never heard of named Donald Miller. One friend recommended it, and then another mentioned it in something that she was saying, and one night at the mall with a bunch of my girlfriends, amid all the hustle and bustle, somewhere in my scrambled eggs I officially called my brain, I decided I need to read something that provoked me to think. Every mall has a bookstore, so I went in search of this book with a title my eight year old thinks is weird, and the hunter in me was satisfied. Those who know me know that my library card is one of my most treasured possessions. I love used book sales and amazon.com, and have found many a gold mine at Goodwill, flea markets, yard sales and antique shops, but I NEVER, almost ever buy a book brand new. I paid full price at the mall for this book, and I will never regret it. There are so many thoughts I have had over the years that I have never been able to put in words, and Mr. Miller does says them in such an easy-going, matter-of-fact way. Here is an excerpt from a chapter about "the church" that was so right on to me.
One more thing that bugged me, then I will shut up about it. War metaphor. The churches I attended would embrace the war metaphor. They would talk about how we are in a battle, and I agreed with them, only they wouldn't clarify that we were battling poverty and hate and injustice and pride and the powers of darkness. They left us thinking that our war was against liberals and homosexuals. Their teaching would have me believe I was the good person in the world and the liberals were the bad people in the world. Jesus taught that we are all bad and He is good, and He wants to rescue us because there is a war going on and we are hostages in that war. The truth is we are supposed to love the hippies, the liberals, and even the Democrats, and that God wants us to think of them as more important than ourselves. Anything short of this is not true to the teachings of Jesus.
I was nearly in tears when I read this paragraph and was convicted about the way Satan gets us sidetracked, so that we aren't even fighting the real battles. I have seen so much division between people over things that have no bearing in eternity, and I think that as long as we stay encapsulated in our little "churchianity" there is no blood, sweat and tears ministering to the world around us. We like it clean and tidy, sanitary. We don't want anything contaminated to touch our world, our minds, our children. Yes, we should be in the world and not of it. But like this author said, if we are truly to be Jesus to those in the world around us, we need to model our lives after His - He never shied away from anybody.
One thing I think can be read wrong or misinterpreted in this sampling from the book - when he says that God wants us to love hippies and liberals - I do not read this to say that we are to tolerate the sin of homosexuality, or drug use, but to look past that to the human soul that is valued, and loved by God - enough that He would send His Son to die - even for the likes of these.

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