I am mad at Craig, Talon, and my pastor. They all recommended that I read a book that is challenging my fundamental belief system. I am reading Blue like Jazz. I can only read one or two chapters at a time without having to set it down and face my own hypocrisy. Although the author and I have very different backgrounds, we think upon very similar lines. One section of the book really struck me between the eyes. He was recounting how he had led very successful small group and was treated almost as a guru. At some point he realized that he was a fraud and was portraying the ideal Christian, but was not projecting his true nature.
I similarly led a very successful small group at my church. The TnT (twenties and thirties) group by any measure was highly successful. At times I was looked at like a spiritual guru. Those of you who know me well are at this point rolling on the floor with laughter. But none the less, that was my experience. People admired me and I basked in the adulation. In reality however, I was the same dirty rotten scoundrel you all know. Somehow, without consciously meaning to, I changed from authentically sharing my faith to projecting some idealized version of myself.
This all came crashing down the moment I experience the slightest hardship. When the real me came out, I think many of my new friends felt cheated, as though I had somehow changed. The reality of the situation was that they had never really know me and what they were seeing was the real me.
The author of Jazz, goes on to seek Christian spirituality while de-emphasizing â€œChristianity (or the cultural institution we call Christianity).â€ He talks about â€œoutingâ€ himself as a follower of Jesus.
I donâ€™t know why, but that just blows my mind. I am not a closet Christian. Almost everyone knows I am a Christian/Methodistâ€¦blah blah blah. But a follower of Christ? I am not even sure I know what that means. I am a big fan of Jesusâ€™ teachings. I love the book of Matthew, particularly the Sermon on the Mount. But does it really impact my life? Do I love my neighbor (with his corn) like myself? Do I turn the other cheek (only after I have won or I it is clear I will be defeated)? Do I feed the poor? Minister to the sick? Mmmâ€¦no. I am nice to my friends and mean to my enemies. No better or worse than my non-Christian brethren.
The author speaks in terms of loving Jesus. One thing I am absolutely sure of is that I do not love Jesus. Jesus is my mistress. I like the fact that he occasionally gives me a spiritual high or gets me out of a jam. But love? I donâ€™t think so.
What is amazing to me is that even though I treat him like a whore, his capacity for love is not in the least bit diminished. I on the other hand am not even sure what real love of God looks like. The thing is, although I am a John, most of the people I know are too. I am left to think that true communion with God is almost unattainable.
My 2 cents on a Monday morning.