Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My notes on Blue Like Jazz

"Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way."

"As silly as it sounds, I realized, late that night, that other people had feelings and fears and that my interactions with them actually meant something, that I could make them happy or sad in the way I associated with them. I suddenly felt responsible. I was supposed to make them happy. I was not supposed to make them sad. Like I said, it sounds simple, but when you really get it for the first time, it hits hard."

"I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil but rather have us wasting time. This is why the devil tries so hard to get Christians to be religious. If he can sink a man's mind into habit, he will prevent his heart from engaging God. I grew up going to church, so I got used to hearing about God. He was like Uncle Harry or Aunt Sally except we didn't have pictures."

"I rage against American materialism in the name of altruism, but have I even controlled my own heart? The overwhelming majority of time I spend thinking about myself, pleasing myself, reassuring myself, and when I am done there is nothing to spare for the needy. Six billion people live in this world and I can only muster thoughts for one. Me."

"I would hear about grace, read about grace and even sing about grace, but accepting grace is an action I could not understand. IT seemed wrong to me not to have to pay for my sin, not to feel guilty about it or kick myself around. "

After watching an older woman pay for groceries with food stamps. "...I realized that is was not the woman who should be pitied, it was me...I wanted to buy her dignity. And yet, by judging her, I was the one taking her dignity away...I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity...Who am I to think myself above God's charity?"

"Our behavior will not be changed long with self-discipline, but fall in love and a human will accomplish what he never thought possible...by accepting God's love for us, we fall in love with Him, and only then do we have the fuel we need to obey. In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God, we are given a kingdom. And a beggar's kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion."

"...rather than the church serving itself, the church is serving the lost and the lonely."

"Authenticity...I love this because by being true I am allowing people to get to know the real me, but it feels better to have people love the real me than the me I invented."

"Don't hold grudges against any other churches. God loves those churches almost as much as he loves yours."

"The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me...There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction."

"If a person senses that 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."

"When I talk to somebody there are always two conversations going on. The first is on the surface...whatever our mouths are saying. The other is...on the level of the heart, and my heart is either communicating that I like the person I am talking to or I don't. God wants both conversations to be true. If both conversations are not true, God is not involved in the exchange, we are on our own, and on our own, we will lead people astray. The Bible says that if you talk to somebody with your mouth, and your heart does not love them, that you are like a person standing there smashing two cymbals together."

"Love your neighbor as yourself...I would never talk to my neighbor the way I talked to myself, and that somehow I had come to believe it was wrong to kick other people around but it was okay to do it to myself...strength, inner strength comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it."

These are my highlights of the book. There are many more. There is a whole chapter on a group of Christians apologizing to an entire group of people over the sins of other Christians which was very powerful. These highlights though, are things that stood out to me in a big way-like I need to incorporate them into my life way, especially these last two. I think I have given myself permission not to like some people and that is not a message I am comfortable living. I want God to be involved in all of my interactions with other people. I have judged and dismissed many people in 35 years instead of loving them. I don't want to waste time condemning myself for it, but I don't want it to continue either.

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