Archive for August 6th, 2009

As I continue to transition from the position of lackey to that of servant of God–that is, a Jesus follower unshackled from the ball and chainof a church signed paycheck–I realize how much I was missing for so long. I realize, more and more, how much of a legalist I was and had become and how it would continue to get worse as long as I was being paid to preach. It is sad. I realize that for the better part of my life I was fighting the wrong war, waging war against the wrong enemy, not realizing that the war was already fought and won and that I was to follow where He led.

A friend of mine came to visit today. He is a pastor. He served me communion last Sunday and put his hand on my bald head and prayed over me. I haven’t been served communion for a long time; the prayer was like rain. When our visit was nearing its appointed end, he, another friend, and I, engaged in prayer. Sweet fellowship and the Spirit’s refreshment. But when he prayed, he said something like, “Lord, help Jerry not to be planning.” I know what he means. Following means following not leading. It means waiting. It means not pressing my plans in order to hurry the Lord along. Resting. Waiting. Patience.

Following means learning to trust again. Following means that I don’t have to understand everything. Following means going in the path of someone else, doing what they do. Following means learning to love again.

Following means loving?!? I’ve complained to the Lord a lot about love because there are people I don’t want to love. Talk about war; it’s much easier to be a prisoner of war sometimes and growing accustomed to scarcity, brutality, unfeeling, emotionless, self-pity and mental anarchy. Much harder is it to follow the protocols of war and make it my first duty to escape. I heard in a song yesterday, “It’s true that love can change us, but never quite enough.” That might be skepticism; it might also be optimism. You can guess yourself.

So I have been, as I have found myself doing much lately, thinking and wondering if love has truly changed me–realizing that for all of my 39 years I haven’t grown all that much. Then I just happened to find this.

I heard my pastor say once, when there were only a few of us standing around, that he hated Bill Clinton. I can understand no liking Clinton’s policies, but I want my spirituality to rid me of hate, not give me a reason for it. I couldn’t deal with that. That is one of the main reasons I walked away. I felt like, by going to a particular church, I was a pawn for Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans did not give a crap about the causes of Christ.

Only one more thing that bugged me, then I will shut up about it. War metaphor. The churches I attended would embrace war metaphor. They would talk about how we are in a battle, and I agreed with them, only they wouldn’t clarify that we were battling poverty and hate and injustice and pride and the powers of darkness. They left us thinking that our war was against liberals and homosexuals. Their teaching would have me believe I was the good person in the world and the liberals were the bad people in the world. Jesus taught that we are all bad and He is good, and He wants to rescue us because there is a war going on and we are hostages in that war. The truth is we are supposed to love the hippies, the liberals, and even the Democrats, and that God wants us to think of them as more important than ourselves. Anything short of this is not true to the teachings of Jesus. (Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 131-132)

So there has been this cosmic shift of worldview in me. It’s not that I find everything that certain groups do appealing or something I can sign on to. It is that it doesn’t matter if certain groups do everything to suit me or my opinion. It means that because Jesus matters, everyone matters. It means that because of the cross, there are no insignificant or unlovable people. It means that the “best way to change the world is to change your mind…you find energy to do something you hadn’t expected to do” (Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually), 252).

It means that love has changed me, but not enough. Self-examination is never the easiest thing to do–it’s ugly in there. But love.

It means that today, starting today (or starting three weeks ago when I was informed that my ministry was over, or just beginning), I am in the business of finding new people on earth to love.

I don’t need any more people to hate. I do not need a spirituality to cause me to hate. I don’t need a worldview that is filled with hate. There’s enough hate in the world and in the church. I’m done with hate.

Hello Love.

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