Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"It's not about you."

I first used a form of this phrase several years ago on a backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon. My compadres and I were making our descent into the canyon and had to stop several times as our lungs and knees acclimated to the Grand's grandeur. A few of the stops were longer than necessary and after one of my friends said, "Hey, just a little longer, o.k?" I replied, "Oh, I forgot. This is all about you. Forgive me. Say, how about a latte and some scones? And while we're at it, why don't we read a few chapters of Jane Austen?" I will not repeat his response, but suffice it to say, he got up and got moving. Now obviously this was the kind of smack-talk that men do sometimes in order to motivate one another for the task ahead. It wasn't too long down the trail before that same phrase was used on me with the same "got up and got moving" results.

This phrase has crawled into church-life in recent years, gracing the covers and insides of several popular books. It seems to be essentially a reactive measure against our culture's mantra of "It's all about me!" The phrase has dropped from the lips of teachers and preachers (myself included) in sermons urging church members not to treat the church like it was customer service at Wal-Mart. Sometimes the sermon doesn't speak to you. Get over it. Sometimes the music doesn't move you. Come back next week. Some Sundays nobody passes you the peace. As Jim Harrison has said, "Go tell that to Anne Frank." In those moments, we all need to remember, "It's not always about me."

But a funny thing occasionally happens on the way to church. We take a truth and let it slip into half-truth. Satan loves this. And I'm afraid this has happened in regard to this phrase. For more often than not, what I hear and intuit from many Christians is not, "It's not always about me," but "It's never about me. It's all about God. All the time." Now before you dial heresy hotline, hear me out. That sounds like one of the most purely spiritual sentences of all time; I'm just not sure it's biblical. If you play this purely spiritual sentence out, you end up with the complete opposite of what we (the church) find so disturbing in the world today; namely, a total withdrawal of the unique creation of God into some kind of huge, amorphous, universal body of Christ that has no distinctions, no color, no creed, no desires, no nothing. "I don't count. All that counts is God. It's never about me. Never." While that makes for great martyrdom, it doesn't do much for a relationship. Satan loves this.

I've only got about a paragraph, so let me sum up. I do not believe it's always about me. But I do believe that sometimes it's about me. When my Father in Heaven knit me together in my mother's womb - I believe that was about me. When Jesus whispered my name at the age of six and I said, "Yes" - I believe that was about me. Not in some crazy American idol, "take-a-look-at-me-now" kind of way, but in an "I see you, John, and I love you" kind of way. When I exited west on Briargate the other morning and saw the most beautiful orange-sherbet moon sitting atop a denim-blue Front Range, you know what? I took that as a gift just for me at that particular moment. Once that moment was gone, that view was for someone else (you have to utilize the "catch and release" method). Those moments of it being about me do not detract from it being about God at all; He is the author of those moments and their emphasis. Arrows of love from the quiver of the heart of God. And sometimes they're about you. And sometimes, me.

-- John Blase


Anonymous said...

Hi John,
So good to hear from you. I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for making me stop and think about God and his love for me.

Anonymous said...

gosh.... i was reading this and thinking to my self i know john is the writer, but meredith is really blowing me away now. she is really bringing it!!!! then i get further into it and think this has to be john... and sure enough- it was.... that was great john! i know why you have a job as a writer now. you do it so easily and very well!!!!! i think meredith does as well at her postings too. i really want to come to colorado- even more than i did before she started telling us all how pretty it is there. i would love to learn to snow ski. i haven't read your blog in a while so i logged on today. take care and hope all is well with the kids. tonya- kaylee's mom