Blue Like Jazz

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I just finished watching the movie, "Blue Like Jazz". Wow. It was such an incredible film. I identified so much with "Donnie"; the player who was portraying the life of Donald Miller. I did not grow up in Texas but I did grow up in church. I was your stereotypical black kid raised in church. I went to Sunday school. I was the President of this, vice-president of that. Founder of a HS campus ministry. I sang in the choir and I was always good for a good "shout" at church. I knew all of the answers and spoke the correct lingo. I was an absolute TOOL! Some friends of mine joked that I had a "rebuke quota" that I had to fulfill because I was all of the time calling folks out for something that was counter-biblical. It is strange to look back upon that kid I was back in high school because he is so unlike the kid who I am today. Back in high school I think I knew who God was. I think I had a head knowledge of this God guy. But I did not yada God. I knew about him like I knew about MLK, Jr. I did not know him intimately. Then Camp WOW and college came around.

Interestingly, I went to an evangelical bible college in High Point, NC. Formerly named John Wesley College--JDub (Laurel University now). It was a very small bible college but it helped to shape me into who I am today. At this school I was taught how to think. This was largely the work of Dr. Ron Selleck. This man was brilliant. He taught so many classes. He was witty, clumsy and oh so wise. He never let us get away with giving the answer that we thought was correct without giving some thought behind it. He helped me to think...really think about what I believe. But, since it was a bible college there weren't that much to get into. Of course we stayed out past curfew and sneaked a cigarette or two down by the pond but there wasn't too much going on there. After all, most of us were training for ministry and were already serving in one capacity or other in ministry. I think JDub coupled with my experiences at camp really helped to open my eyes.

While a camp counselor at Camp WOW I met some of the most incredible people of my life. My fellow counselors was an eclectic group. For the first time I met folks who did not share my beliefs. Some did--probably most did--but they were still different from my own. My eyes began to awaken to the reality that not everyone saw things in the same light as did I or my friends back home in Greensboro. Not everyone thought that you should wait until you were married to have sex. Not everyone thought that Jesus was the only way. The only truth. Nor the only life. Not everyone thought it was bad for two girls to love each other. I was forced to see that my Christian bubble was just that; a bubble.

I really don't know when it happened exactly but I began to ask questions. I began, also, to get embarrassed to be associated with Christians. Some where along my journey I began to distance myself from the fundamentalists that I--at one point--had been a member. At some point I began to wonder why my church annually had a silent protest against abortion but we rarely (if ever) helped out the poor in our city. At some point I opened my eyes, asked questions and for myself, found Jesus.

I was surprised to learn that the Jesus I found was not so much concerned with American dominance but with loving and restoring the lost and broken masses. I learned--and am learning--that Jesus is so in love with everyone who is far from him. In my searching I found that Jesus was, in fact, not represented by the guy on the corner at Belle Chere telling gay folks why they were going to hell but by the kids at Awaken City Church who feed and befriend homeless folks each week. In my longing, striving and searching, I found that Jesus was to be found as I walked along this path and allowed love to prevail.

I admit that there are still days when I am embarrassed of Jesus or more accurately, of me and the masses like me who deny and defy Jesus by my actions--or more often lack thereof--each day.

I love Jesus. I love his bride, the Church. I want only to represent him well and not bring embarrassment nor shame to his name.




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