Last night Emily and I went to a reading by Donald Miller, the author of Blue Like Jazz, at a Christian bookstore up in Vancouver. Blue Like Jazz has been producing a subtle undercurrent through Christian circles and some non-Christian circles. The book is not mainstream, religious-right, Christianity--and has received much flack for it--but the book has impacted me in ways that I cannot even begin to tell you. If you haven't picked it up yet, do. Even if you don't agree with Don and his impressions of Christianity and Jesus, it will impact how you see Jesus and give you a great understanding of Portland and the Northwest. (Don lives in Portland, and the culture of Portland is all over the pages of the book.) Not to mention, he's a fabulous writer!
It was an awesome evening! Don's amazingly down to earth, and it was almost like sitting down in his living room to have a fireside chat. He read excerts from his new book Through Painted Deserts, which journals his journey from Houston, TX (where he grew up) to Portland, OR--a tale which Emily and I could certainly identify with. As I sat and listened to Don last night, God continued to work in me the good work He is working in me. This is what God is currently teaching me:
It's all about Jesus! Nothing else matters. All of our religiousity, all of our 1, 2, 3 steps to absolute happiness or deeper faith or to the godly man of our dreams are fabricated elements of modern society's need to categorize and organize everything into neat, pretty packages. Jesus isn't a neat and pretty package! He gives us a hard call to pick up our cross! He's dangerous and bold! He doesn't fit in the boxes that we put Him in! I just want to believe Jesus! I just want to know that who I am is wrapped up in Him, and I want to share that with a few people along the way. I want people in my life who are making a disciple out of me, and I want people in my life to make disciples out of. I want to love the Lord, love my neighbor, and go make disciples. That's what Jesus asked me to do. That's what He asked all of us to do. I'm done with religion that gives me three major points and three major steps to having a greater whatever. All I need to have a greater whatever is Jesus. All I need is Jesus, and if He's not at the center of everything in my life, then what in the world am I doing it for!
As I look back at scripture, I don't see a complex, complicated Jesus. He was pretty straight forward with people. He didn't need to beat around the bush. He never said, here's three steps to not judging your neighbor--he just said don't judge. He never said if you follow these basic principles, you won't committ adultery--he just said don't do it. He spent a lot of time tearing down the rules, regulations, and legalities that the Pharisees had set up, and spent even more time just making it simple--the Sabbath was made for man, love the Lord, love your neighor, believe, believe, believe. Didn't Jesus say Himself that His yoke was easy and His burden was light? Why do we then have to make it heavy and complicated to get to Jesus? Why can't we just go to Jesus and be with Jesus?
I guess what I'm saying is that I just want a simpler faith. I don't have to understand the ends and outs of every scripture. I just have to believe the Word as true and seek for the words to be written on my heart. I don't have to understand why and how the Spirit is living in me. I just have to know that He is. Jesus made it simple for people to believe in Him--I want it to be that simple for me!
Praying for a simpler faith...