One of the best books I have read on the Christian life is an extremely interesting and easy read by Donald Miller entitled Blue Like Jazz. In the coming weeks I may use excerpts of this book as the basis for some of my blogs about my own feelings about the faith of which I am an ordained minister, but I want to start with a quote from a chapter near the end of the book named “Jesus”. In it Miller writes,
A guy I know named Alan went around the country asking ministry leaders questions. He went to successful churches and asked the pastors what they were doing, and why what they were doing was working. It sounded very boring, except for one visit he made to a man named Bill Bright, the president of a big ministry. Alan said he was a big as life, who listened without shifting his eyes. Alan asked a few questions-I don’t know what they were, but as a final question, he asked Dr. Bright what Jesus meant to him. Alan said Dr. Bright could not answer the question. He said Dr. Bright just started to cry. He sat there in his big chair, behind his big desk, and wept.
When Alan told that story, I wondered what it was like to love Jesus like that. I wondered quite honestly if that Bill Bright guy was just nuts, or if he really knew Jesus in a personal way, so well that he would cry at the very mention of His name. I knew then that I would like to know Jesus like that; with all my heart, not just my head. I really felt like that would be the key to something.”
I am often a whiner and complainer, and when it comes to the failings of the church this is even more true. There is much wrong with “organized religion.” From denominations concerned about their own preservation to local churches filled with people whose primary concern is the church meeting their own needs, Christianity often does not looks like a religion that Jesus would have deigned to found.
Nevertheless, I have found my calling in life as a minister of the gospel. It is not something i would have chosen for myself (that is another story), but here I am, and in spite of all of its flaws, I believe that the church is one of the primary ways that God has chosen to reach our world with his message of love and grace. It is passages and stories like the one above that give me hope that we have not failed entirely in our mission.
This passage reminds me that, more than anything else, my calling has to do with introducing people to Jesus and calling them to love him as he loves them. Nothing else I do is more important than this. This is, in Miller’s words, “the key to something.” In fact, as a follower of Jesus, i would go even further: it is the key to everything.
For a another take on this quote from Blue Like Jazz, visit seretoninrain here.
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