From the bookshelf, currently reading and recommending Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. My wife just recommended the book to a friend, who bought it immediately and provided an update the following day: she says she is enjoying it but feels almost sacriligious when she reads it. I said that was just further proof she needed this book. Excerpt of the day from page 115:
In a recent radio interview I was sternly asked by the host, who did not consider himself a Christian, to defend Christianity. I told him that I couldn’t do it, and moreover, that I didn’t want to defend the term. He asked me if I was a Christian, and I told him yes. “Then why don’t you want to defend Christianity?” he asked, confused. I told him I no longer knew what the term meant. Of the hundreds of thousands of people listening to his show that day, some of them had terrible experiences with Christianity; they may have been yelled at by a teacher in a Christian school, abused by a minister, or browbeaten by a Christian parent. To them, the term Christianity meant something that no Christian I know would defend. By fortifying the term, I am only making them more and more angry. I won’t do it. Stop ten people on the street and ask them what they think of when they hear the word Christianity, and they will give you ten different answers. How can I defend a term that means ten different things to ten different people? I told the radio show host that I would rather talk about Jesus and how I came to believe that Jesus exists and that he likes me. The host looked back at me with tears in his eyes. When we were done, he asked me if we could go get lunch together. He told me how much he didn’t like Christianity but how he had always wanted to believe Jesus was the Son of God.
Don Miller is spot-on with observations here, and not just for the “unchurched.” Seven months ago I approached the senior pastor of our multi-congregation church and told him that a particular issue the church had been up against for quite some time simply had to be dealt with. Actually, what I pleaded was, “Please deal with this, it’s getting in the way between me and Jesus.” Since the issue still hasn’t gone away, I’ve had to respond by entering detox from church… which is really working out quite well so far. But you know there’s a problem when the church is the barrier and not the pathway to Jesus; and it’s sometimes that even for members of the church.
Watch out. You may be reacting not against this thing you call “church” but people. Is not church any way you slice it people. We work together with messed up people and messed up leaders. They have to be patient with you. Maybe loving is loving the whole church and all its people even when and especially when they get in the way of loving them.
Bonnhoffer’s “Life Together” talks a lot about living in community and this dynamic I am speaking of.