Déardaoin, Deireadh Fómhair 13, 2005


If you've not read Blue Like Jazz I highly suggest you do. I'm not entirely through it yet, but it's a book that as so far challenged me in way I've not expected. As much as I love to read I don't often feel that completly connect with the author on anything more than an intellectual level, this is probably because the majority of what I've read in the past five years have been text books or supplementary reading. But this...this is different. I seem to share in the experences that Donald Miller writes about. I understand many of his frustraitions becuase I've gone through them myself, but there was somthing more last night. The two chapters that I read dealt with grace. Not what it is so much as how it's given. We in the evangelical and mainline churches talk about free grace. We quote the scripture by Paul that say that it is not by work, but by faith/grace alone that we are saved. We say it, but do we act it out? Miller writes that "I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity. this is why I have so much trouble with grace." It's hard to free reach out your hand to take what ever is given to you and then to be satisfied with it. I think this is especially hard here in America. We call it the American Dream. People from other countries flock by the thousands to get through our boarders just at the chance of persuing that dream. Those of us who are obsesed with it see it as a big house, maybe a large family, no finacial problems, being well off, never wanting for anything at anytime, being the master of our own universe. We idolize the "self-made man." We admire the pioneers, the Davey Crockets and Daniel Boons of our history, because the did it by themselves. The succeeded in doing what no one else around them could do, they triumphed through adversity and they did it all on there own. We hear it all the time, we must go out and make something of ourselves. And so we say with ease that it is by faith alone, but we can't believe that could possibly be it.
So we listen to the prayer requests from the other people in the circle. His mom has cancer, we need to pray about that. Her grandfather is an alcoholic, we need to pray about that. He just lost my job and his rent is due at the end of the month, we need to pray about that. Aaron do you have anything you'd like to share? No, I don't have anything that needs your prayer right now, we should focus on these others prayer requests. But Miller says "Who am I to think myself above God's charity? And why would I forsake the riches of God's righteousness for the dung of my own ego?" The Charity of God...we don't like being on the recieving end of that word. In an american context it means that we've failed in the american dream. We've failed at creating a life for ourselves. But that's what God offers to us, Charity. We in our ignorance so often chose the "dung of our own ego," just so we can say that we did it ourselves. We do this becuase we want to be able to say your welcome, or thank you went someone tells us that we've done a wonderful job. If we were to accept God fully in is charitable offer of grace, we would be forced to in to an auckward corner of having to say, thankyou all the while knowing that we had nothing to do with it. I feel this way all the time when someone tells me that I've done an wonderful job with the music, "you have such a lovely voice, thank you so much, you did a wonderful job." What have I done, I didn't give myself this voice. I feel so auckward, I just don't know what to say. But all the while we play in our dung heeps, God waits patiently.
The patient love of God, it brings to mind the book of hosea. Hosea was told by God to marry a prostitue. He did so, but soon after Gomer, the wife, runs away and returns to her practices. God commands Hosea to go and find her, and Hosea, being under no legal obligation to do anything but have is wife stoned to death, goes, pays a great amount for her, and then returns with her to his home. The patient love of God is like this. He waits, watching with tears in his eyes as we wallow in our own dung, feeding our own ego, waiting for us to reach out and grab His hand before we drown in it all. This is how we can love God, not by choice but by example. Because God first loved us, we love and obey him in return. Like in The Taming of the Shrew God waits as "the groom enduring the billigerent bride with kindness, patience, and love."
And here is the promise. "In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God, we are given a kingdom." The promise of eternal life, that we so often think is our prize for running the race, is in reality the finish line. Not what we get, but were we end up. "And a beggers kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion." We never think about it, we call it humility, but is it more often our pride?

1 comment:

Moving Forward said...

I love Donald Miller too. I read Blue Like Jazz a year ago and loved it. He comes down to our level and relates to his readers really well. Good thoughts!