I didn’t quite get around to writing last week about our first week reading Blue Like Jazz. But I am ready to wrong that, though I will be skipping right ahead to chapter 2.
It could be quite pointless writing all this. I mean why read what I have to say about the book when you can just read the book itself. Which you should. But please join in if you like. The more the merrier. Feel free to comment and agree, disagree, call me a Heretic or just say Hi.
So to business.
What I love about Chapter 2- ‘Problems’- is that it has helped me understand the human condition better. If you are a Christian in Northern Ireland then you know that we are all sinners and need saved. Well at least that’s what we are told. And ultimately I believe this and I affirm this. However I never felt comfortable with it. I never liked this. It felt like when I wanted my friends to know about God that I had to start a conversation with this statement and that’s just awkward.
It’s not a great conversation opener to be honest. Telling people that they need saved is kind of arrogant if you think about it, as if you have the answers already. But I think this is actually a really beautiful thing. The fact that we are far from perfect and that we need rescued from ourselves.
And the reason I think it is beautiful is because I agree with Don that the problem with the world starts with me.
I could sit here and write all day about issues that are wrong in the world. People who are doing terrible things to other people. Lives which are being torn apart by war and hatred. Governments which are abusing other smaller and weaker countries for their own power. You don’t need to go far to see just how messed up the world is.
I mean I am fine. I can get up in the morning and I am a Christian and I can go to church every week and read my Bible every day, or at least intend to. And those things I saw on the news last night are nothing to do with me. And I can write a blog which is ultimately not helping the world at all. And it’s all fine because I am saved.
But therein lies the problem. Because when I start seeing the world like this then I am actually becoming the problem. My Christian life can become very selfish and all about me that I can forget that there is a world out there. Not that I am saying I am the solution because if I am, then God help us all.
But we can’t make a difference unless we realise that we are all in need of rescuing. If nothing more than from ourselves.
So when it comes to telling people that they are sinners and they need rescued, it’s actually the most freeing thing we can come to understand about ourselves. When we throw our egos out the window then we don’t need to stop trying to feed them so much. We don’t need to keep chasing after things that we think are going to make us happy.
I know that when I write here a part of me wants people to read it and think I am a great writer and very clever. I want my friends to see how amazing I am. I want them to compliment me. I want them to compare me to Rob Bell and I want them to tell my friends about me.
And I am a living example of how I am the problem. Because I can’t love others when I am spending so much time trying to please myself. It doesn’t work. And so I need to be rescued.
And I have been and I am so thankful to a God that has shown me that the world doesn’t revolve around me. So this is why I think one of the greatest things we can learn about ourselves is that we are sinners. Not because God wants us to beat oursleves up. Or needs us to give him praise.
But because he knows that we are chasing something that will never really give us what we need, when we try and live for oursleves.
If we understand this then maybe we can understand oursleves better and understand what God is really like.