I’ve put it off long enough and it’s time to push aside all the excuses.
As I said in my last post, my sister gave me Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller to read and discuss it together. Sort of a family book club, you could say. It’s been four weeks since Christmas, so I’ve let her down… but no more! To keep me accountable, I will be posting my thoughts from the book on this blog. That means you can look forward to several more posts on this.
Let’s start with a little background. Donald Miller wrote the Christian bestseller, Blue Like Jazz. He wrote Searching for God Knows What just after Blue Like Jazz yet before he knew what a hit the previous book would be. Like the bestseller, Searching for God Knows What (SGKW?) continues Miller’s journey into what it means to live as a Christian, sharing personal revelations through a series of snapshots into his past.
The first chapter starts with formulas people use, those 1-2-3 steps we use to get what we want. Miller describes how he began considering the usefulness of formulas after attending a writing seminar that taught two simple formulas to write successful books. He looked to his bookshelf of self-help and how-to books and realized none fulfilled his life like they had guaranteed.
“It made me wonder, honestly, if such a complex existence as the one you and I are living can really be broken down into a few steps,” Miller wrote. “It seems if there were a formula to fix life, Jesus would have told us what it was.”
We hope the simple step-by-step methods will make our lives easier or better. But as any honest person would tell you, formulas don’t solve the complexity of reality. Life isn’t made of formulaic steps. Neither are our relationships.
“Some would say formulas are how we interact with God, that going through motions and jumping through hoops are how a person acts out his spirituality,” Miller wrote.
This idea confuses Miller because we don’t do strange rituals to hang out with a friend. We just call them and ask them over for coffee. Using rituals to reach God makes him out to be less than a personal, more like a robot than a being.
I agree that it’s all too easy for Christians to forget God’s actually aware and sentient, especially since God isn’t visible like your friend and you can’t hear his voice over the phone. For instance, the last time you prayed, did you actually wait and listen for him to respond back? Or did you say, “Amen!” without a thought that God might have something to say to you? I’ll admit I’ve done it.
Miller began reading the Bible under a new light. Instead of formulas, he looked for what God wanted to say.
“When I did that, I realized the gospel of Jesus, I mean the essence of God’s message to mankind, wasn’t a bunch of hoops we need to jump through to get saved, and it wasn’t a series of ideas we had to agree with either; rather, it was an invitation, an invitation to know God,” Miller wrote.
This is what Jefferson Bethke was getting at in his spoken-word poem (see my last post). Christianity isn’t about following the right rules, taking the right steps, to earn God’s acceptance. God wants us to know him.
- The Difference Between Religion and Relationship (reviewedthought.wordpress.com)