Friday, February 23, 2007

"Blue Like Jazz" Love

I have been reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Absolutely amazing. If you haven't read it and/or heard of it, it is a series of essays on different topics concerning Christian faith. Miller is so candid and unreserved about everything; he does not hold back. (Yes, I am promoting it. READ IT.) I just finished one essay he wrote on love, "How To Really Love Other People." He talks about how it used to bother him that churches seemed to exclude and judge people who didn't fit in - those who didn't live right or weren't Christians or believed the "wrong things." He was attending this alumni social at a college, and the speaker, Greg Spencer, talked about relationships and the metaphors we use in talking about them. Spencer asked the crowd for phrases we use referring to relationships. As the crowd called out things and Spencer wrote them down, Miller began to realize that all of the metaphors being used were economic metaphors. Miller goes on to say:

And that's when it hit me like so much epiphany getting dislodged from my arteries. The problem with Christian culture is we think of love as a commodity. We use it like money. Professor Spencer was right, and not only was he right, I felt as though he had cured me, as though he had let me out of my cage. I could see it very clearly. If somebody is doing something for us, offering us something, be it gifts, time, popularity, or what have you, we feel they have value, we feel they are worth something to us, and, perhaps, we feel they are priceless. I could see it so clearly, and I could feel it in the pages of my life. This was the thing that had smelled so rotten all these years. I used love like money. The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did. The next few days unfolded in a thick line of melancholy thought and introspection. I used love like money, but love doesn't work like money. It is not a commodity. When we barter with it, we all lose. When the church does not love its enemies, it fuels their rage. It makes them hate us more. ... I replaced economic metaphor, in my mind, with something different, a free gift metaphor or a magnet metaphor. That is, instead of withholding love to change somebody, I poured it on, lavishly. I hoped that love would work like a magnet, pulling people from the mire and toward healing. I knew this was the way God loved me. God had never withheld love to teach me a lesson. Here is something very simple about relationships that Spencer helped me discover: Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them. If a person senses taht you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them. If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.

That is my favorite part so far. We show our disapproval of others, trying to change them. That's why we hear of people rejecting Christianity because they despise Christians; when Christians show nothing but loathing for them, how can we expect them to respond to the Gospel with such representatives? Why would they want to be part of a group that shows nothing but disdain for them? We must love them - unconditionally - in order to win them. My favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 9:19 - "Though I am free from all men, I make myself a servant unto all, that I might win the more." We must respect them. We must truly be Christ-like, loving everyone. It is our responsibility as Christians to love others, especially enemies. Loving them means not judging them. What right do we have to judge anyone? As a Christian, I know the truth, but that does not make me better than a nonbeliever. I do not have a right to be proud. I could be in their position; I was in their position. It is only by the grace of God that I am alive today and alive in Him.


  1. Well said, girl, you're dead on. Thank you for the reminder. Lessons like this will bring freedom like none other. Hold on to it tight.

  2. Anonymous6:15 PM

    This is amazing! This is exactly what I've always felt... Why do churches feel the need to turn people away when they are seeking God? I am drinking's wonderful! Finally, someone who gets it...

  3. Anonymous6:16 PM

    BTW, it's me in that previous comment... I can't remember my login... :)


  4. Anonymous11:05 PM

    That is so true. If people feel that they are being judged they will turn away. It's an interesting concept that we use love like money, I've never heard it put like that.
    Love you lots,