I’m reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. My son picked it up from a friend and was so challenged by Miller’s thoughts, he wants us to check it out and let him know what we think. I’m only on chapter 8, but he has said many things I find compelling.
You must know the premise of the book is to explain Christian spirituality without using religious thoughts. Quite a difficult task for me, having grown up in the church and being mostly sheltered from modern-day culture. Yes, I would fit best in the 1950’s, I think.
In the chapter called “Redemption,” Miller explains the struggle with sin:
“…that’s the tricky thing about life, really, that the things we want most kill us. Tony the Beat Poet read me this ancient scripture recently that talked about loving either darkness or loving light, and how hard it is to love light and how easy it is to love darkness. I think that is true. Untimately, we do what we love to do. I like to think that I do things for the right reasons, but I don’t, I do things because I do or don’t love doing them. Because of sin, because I am self-addicted, living in the wreckage of the fall, my body, my heart, and my affections are prone to love things that kill me. Tony says Jesus gives us the ability to love the things we should love, the things of Heaven. Tony says that when people who follow Jesus love the right things, they help create God’s kingdom on earth, and that is something beautiful.
I found myself trying to love the right things without God’s help, and it was impossible. I tried to go one week without thinking a negative thought about another human being, and I couldn’t do it. Before I tried that experiment, I thought I was a nice person, but after trying it, I realized I thought bad things about people all day long, and that, like Tony says, my natural desire was to love darkness.
My answer to this dilemma was self-discipline. I figured I could just make myself do good things, think good thoughts about people, but that was no easier than walking up to a complete stranger and falling in love with them. I could go through the motions for a while, but sooner or later my heart would testify to its true love: darkness. Then I would get up and try again. The cycle was dehumanizing.”
The next chapter, “Grace” begins:
“I was a fundamentalist Christian once. It lasted a summer. I was in that same phase of trying to discipline myself to ‘behave’ as if I loved light and not ‘behave’ as if I loved darkness. I used to get really ticked about preachers who talked too much about grace, because they tempted me to not be disciplined. I figured what people needed was a good kick in the butt, and if I failed in godliness it was because those around me weren’t trying hard enough. I believed if word got out about grace, the whole church was going to turn into a brothel. I was a real jerk, I think.”
Hmmm…what do you think?