Donald Miller's new book

Donald Miller writing in his newest book, Searching for God Knows What, (p 45 – 47) said some things that seemed to make a lot of sense.  It explains a lot of why I need God and his people.  It goes beyond the surface of my search for human love and acceptance to the mystery of those deep longings within me that are hard to express. He says:

You go walking along, thinking people are talking a language and exchanging ideas, but the whole time there is this deeper language people are really talking, and that language has nothing to do with ethics, fashion, or politics, but what it really has to do with is feeling important and valuable.  What if the economy we are really dealing in life, what if the language we are really speaking in life, what if what we really want in life is relational?…

Now this changes things quite a bit, because if the gospel of Jesus is just some formula I obey in order to get taken off the naughty list and put on a nice list, then it doesn’t meet the deep need of the human condition, it doesn’t interact with the great desire of my soul, and it has nothing to do with the hidden (or rather, obvious) language we are all speaking.

Having a relationship with Jesus now, is so far from being a formula thing.  It has nothing to do with following a form of behaviour, rules or living up to other peoples standards.  It is so much more complicated than a set of rules and yet, at the same time, so much simpler.  There is something built in to me that needs that acceptance and love that he offers.  I don’t have to earn that acceptance – I can’t. 

I cannot go back to anything less than an intimate relationship with Christ where I am secure in the fact that he loves me and he actually gets pleasure out of my little attempts to show him love in return.  So all my actions become attempts to love him back, to please him, to allow our relationship to develope.  This relationship can’t be limited to rules.  Rules are binding and hedge in.  They put limits on behaviour but also limit the possible expressions of love.  Rules create fear – fear of slipping up on some small neglected item that was on the rule list.  Perfect love casts out fear.  He has freed me.

So this deeper language of relationships can only be learned as the relationship with Christ frees us from having to meet the worlds standards of importance, fame and influence.  Christ also frees us from these same standards which creep into the instituation of the church where adherence to sets of rules may confer importance, admiration for pious behaviour and influence.  These are generally religious perks that Jesus warned us against seeking.

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0 responses to “Donald Miller's new book

  1. I am enjoying Miller’s book too.

  2. I wasn’t aware that he had a new book out. He’s the Blue Like Jazz guy, right?

    This is always a tough issue for me. Where do you find the balance between legalism and accountibility. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. I don’t fully understand what this means (sometimes I think I do, but then I forget), but it seems to me that we should still strive for holiness. While the law may have “power” over me in a judgement sense, the law is still in effect–it’s just that it’s filtered through Christ as the embodiment/fulfillment of the law.

    Anyway, this isn’t getting any simpler as I go here…

    I don’t think legalism is right, but does that mean that people can behave however they like? I’ve never been able to reconcile this…

  3. Phil L

    My children understand that there are rules that they are expected to live by, and this doesn’t mean that they don’t have a good relationship with their parents. Likewise with my heavanly Father. The apostle Paul warned against legalism, which I understand as trying to earn our salvation through our works. However he also spelled out rules for living. This doesn’t go over very well in our permissive culture, but I think it’s part of choosing to follow Christ. Agreeing with Galatians 4 doesn’t mean that I should throw out Galatians 5. It’s not a matter of “living up to other peoples standards”, but rather of living up to God’s standards as revealed in his Word. (Although as part of the body of Christ we are all accountable to each other).

  4. Grace

    To me the dichotomy in this issue came clearer as I thought through the verse “faith without works is dead.”

    Works can never make me righteous – make me holy -make me good – make me anything but proud!

    But after the “faith relationship” with Christ is established, works flow out of that relationship that have nothing to do with my trying to be “good”! They come from his love flowing through me. But if they are not there, then there is some kind of break in my relationship with him. He must do good things – righteous things. It is his very nature. And if we are his new body, He must do them through us!

    And so, I think we need to make sure we don’t get the “cart before the horse”. If the good works are there before the relationship is established they amount to nothing – worse than nothing – “filthy rags” Isaiah says. But once that relationship is established, the good works will start to flow – out of our love for Him. Paul calls this putting on the righteousness of Christ. And as Paul says in Romans, this eliminates pride because the works are not really our works, but His! What a God we have!

  5. Linea

    Shooting off a quick reply to both of you is a good way for me to stick my foot in my mouth. Let me think on this one. I know what I mean but can I explain it? I will try.

  6. Linea, I’m not sure that I’m disagreeing with you. Your post just brings up some issues that I have tried to reconcile for quite some time.

  7. Linea – I liked your original post, and have no wish to amend or adjust it. Well put.

  8. Linea

    Marc – I realize you are not disagreeing with me. I understand your dilemma. If anything I would just want to explain better how I’ve come to understand the issue.

    Toni – thanks