Blue Like Jazz Chapter 12 – Church: How I Go Without Getting Angry
Here are the things I didn’t like about the churches I went to. First: I felt like people were trying to sell me Jesus.
I think the more you feel the need to sell your product, or in this case, your belief on someone, the more it means the product or belief isn’t enough on its own. If your religion does as much for you as you like to claim it does, a “new comer” should be able to see that from how you are living; they do not need to hear you tell them how much it can do for them minute after minute.
I get tired of the sale’s pitches, not only for a particular religion or denomination, but more specifically for a specific congregation. If it truly is about your religion and the belief in God and Jesus as the son of God, and that is not about one church versus another, then why should you care if I belong to your congregation or another congregation that is part of the same religion? It is too much about politics and wanting YOUR support for our congregation.
I’ve never been much for politics, so I’m still not going to go for it when it comes to religion too…
Only one more thing that bugged me, then I will shut up about it. War metaphor. The churches I attended would embrace 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.
There really is only one main sentence in that paragraph that I wanted to comment on, but I thought it was important to give the jist of the context from which it came. The sentence I think is interesting is:
Jesus taught that we are all bad and He is good…
You know, in the midst of a time when people are so quick to say the way someone else is living is bad, it is important to remind ourselves that we are bad too then. Who is to say that a homosexual is any worse than you? We all have sin, so says the Bible, right? It is that sin that makes us “bad,” right?
Don’t get me wrong, we all have those times when we interact with someone or we just encounter someone that the thought crosses our mind that we are better than them. This happens, we are not perfect, and I can understand that. But what bothers me is when the thought becomes a belief or a standard in our life—that we are better than that other type or group of people. When we live day to day under the belief that democrats are bad, republicans are bad, homosexuals are bad, atheists are bad, blacks are bad, obese individuals are bad, etc, we are only clouding our own window for which we view this world in which we are living. Why not just view groups who are different from you as just that—different. Difference is not “bad.” Difference represents an opportunity to learn, and it is this learning experience that can enlighten each of us.
He said he was talking about loving people just because they exist—homeless people and Gothic people and gays and fruit nuts. And then I liked the sound of it. I like the idea of loving people just to love them, not to get them to come to church. If the subject of church came up, I could tell them about Imago, but until then, who cared. So we started praying every week that God would teach us to live missional lives, to notice people who needed to be loved.
[Note: Imago is the name of Donald Miller’s church he attends]
I like this. I think this goes right along with a post I just recently did about accepting and loving people simply because of the fact that they are human, just as you and me. Who cares if they are homeless—they might just have had more bad breaks in their life than you. Who cares if they are gay—they might just be viewing life through a different window than you. Who cares if they are atheist—they might just not be putting their heart and mind around the same ideas as you are.
What makes our interactions with others important is the love we can get and give from the interactions. Love can come in so many fashions and a mere sense of respect and acceptance can easily be shared.
Authenticity is an enormous value at Imago. I love this because by being true I am allowing people to get to know the real me, and it feels better to have people love the real me than the me I invented.
We all have either had times when we pretended to be whom we really are not, or we are current in situations or relationships where we are pretending to be people we are not, but whichever the case, it happens. Sometimes I believe it is need and drive for socialization and acceptance that influences us “try to fit in” when it means behaving/acting as a type of person that we are not.
It was just recently I heard someone say that so often people make comment to the idea that many times once people get married they see that their spouse is not the person they thought they were—things start to change. This was explained to me with the belief that many times people behave in dating relationships as the person they believe the significant others wants them to be. They want to be accepted and be who the other wants, so they do their best to be that “person,” rather than being truly their self. But then, once marriage occurs, the person begins to feel more safe and accepted in their relationship and they feel less of a “need” or a “drive” to put on the front of who they think the person wants them to be, so they slowly (or more quickly with some), will become their true self—which sometimes might not be the person the spouse wanted to marry.
Whether this is the case or not, I don’t know, but I do know that this also does not just apply to romantic relationships, as I truly believe we are all such social creatures, meaning we need relationships. With that being the case, we are just as easily influenced to behave in particular manners in hopes of landing a friendship we feel the need to have, as we are to confirming a romantic relationship.
In the end, it is easy to see where problems can arise when we act in ways that truly aren’t who we are as a person. Why not try being yourself and let your unique perspective and view on life be what lands you your relationships? Why not enjoy being who you are and being yourself to the best of your ability and see where it takes you? There is no doubt it can be hard, especially at first if you are not used to it. And I’ve no doubt that you could encounter some friction along the way, especially from those who might have thought they knew who you really were before, but in the end, it can only make your relationships of the future more grounded and deeper and fuller.
When people can see the real you, they can not unravel the person they love to find someone they might disagree with and change their love for. You are who you are.
[Note: All the above text in smaller italic print has been quoted directly from Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz”]