Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Confession Booth Part 2

"I like your Christ. I don't not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

The statement above has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

I don't know for sure whether he said it or not... but I'm sure it's been said somewhere, at some time, or at least the sentiment expressed by more than just a handful of people.

Last week I talked about my experience at one of the performing rights organizations. If you aren't familiar with it you should leap back a week and read it.

It's too easy for me to judge someone based on one single, isolated experience. Everyone has their bad days. It seems some folks, myself included have their share of bad days, .. even bad weeks.
There is an old bumper sticker that says, "I'm not perfect,... just forgiven".

Personally, I never liked that sentiment, for I think it is a backhanded way of making an excuse for the way we live and act and treat other people. I know that when I am offended by someone, having them tell me, "Hey, I'm not perfect.... I'm just forgiven"... just makes me want to slap them around.
"I'm so happy that GOD has forgiven you!.... Now, maybe He'll forgive me for the way I'm about to dance on the top of your head!".....

I picked up a copy of a book written by Donald Miller. The book is called, "Blue Like Jazz". I bought it because I really liked the title. My brother was a great Jazz musician and played the saxophone. He was amazing.
Anyway, the forward to the book reads:

"I never liked Jazz music because Jazz music doesn't "resolve". But I was outside the Baghdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.
After that, I liked Jazz.
Sometimes you have to watch someone love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.
I used to not like God because God didn't "resolve." But that was before any of this happened.".....

Donald Miller was a Christian who decided that, instead of taking the familiar Bible College route to education, he was going to attend one of the most secular universities in the U.S.
Each year at this college they shut down the campus for a weekend so that the students can party... get drunk, get stoned, get naked... whatever. (Now, some of you are saying, "Where IS this college... I want to go there!")....

Anyway,... while Don was at this college he was part of a small group of Christians who were trying to be a good witness for Jesus Christ.
So... on this particular weekend, when everything was so crazy, and the folks were partying hard,... the Christians set up a "Confession Booth." They built this little wooden booth with a partition in it so folks could "confess" and get right with God.

Nope. Not really....

You see, the Christians sort of "turned the table" on the whole concept of "confession".

When one of the students could stumble into the booth, they would sit in a chair and say something like, "O.K. What do you want me to confess?"....
Then, the "Christian student would say, "No I don't want YOU to confess. I want you to hear MY confession."
"Really?... That's really weird. But, O.K..... go ahead,... I'm listening."

Then the Christian student would "confess" .....that they hadn't really always been a good witness for Christ,... that often they would be totally self-centered, selfish, inconsiderate of other people's feelings.
"I'm really sorry that I've dragged the name of Jesus through the mud by my actions, comments, negativity, self-righteous attitude.....
Would you be willing to forgive me for that?. I don't want anything in return... just that you would forgive me for the times I've been so UN-Christ-like."...

Most of the time the secular student would say something like.... "Well, yea, I guess so. I mean, we ALL act stupid sometimes, say things that we should, that we wish we wouldn't have, have done things we wish we could take back..... So.... yes, I forgive you."

Then, they might stumble back out of the Confession Booth and go on back and party-on....

But, it might make them think.
It made ME think.....

I don't know about the lady at the performing rights organization. I can't judge her. That's between her and her God.
All I know is that there have been days in my life, as a Christian, I would make her look like a saint by my words, my negativity, by my actions.
For all the times I've dragged the good name of Jesus through the mud of my own life... I'm sorry.

I hope you'll forgive me....

A friend of mine once said, "Jesus didn't come into our lives so we could be like Him. He came because He knew we couldn't."....

I like that. Because it's so.... true.

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