Monday, June 12, 2006

You Tell Me What You Mean By Christian....

So I've said it, the word "Christian".

A few of you might be saying, 'finally', the rest of you are probably saying something a bit more reactive.

I stand a good chance of upsetting both groups sooner or later.

I've got two friends. One is named John and the other, Paul.

About 30 years ago Paul was wandering around on the coast of Rockport, Maine, contemplating suicide.

Another friend of mine, John, was also wandering around the same area, unable to sleep, when he ran into to Paul, then only a stranger. Both men were unknown to me and each other at the time this meeting took place.

They started to talk and from John's conversation, Paul asked John if John was a Christian.

John's reply, "You tell me what you mean by 'Christian' and I'll tell you if that's what I am."

They then went their separate ways.

John's reply rings with my own spiritual path.

The word Christian has been dragged through so many unChristian-like character by Christians that I'm almost ashamed to be associated with the word.

Most non-believers have plenty of ammunition in blaming Christianity on war and the world's problems.

Maybe for others it was abuse at the hand of clergy.

For someone else maybe it was some other bad experience with a church.

For still others maybe it was a little too much Amy Grant exposure.

So if some of you bristle when I say 'Christian', let me say I understand.

I even bristle at my own use of it.

If you dare to call me a Christian, never, NEVER accuse me of being a Christian musician.

Unless you are going to accuse me of be a Black Gospel Musician. I say Black Gospel to differentiate between Black Gospel and Southern Gospel, terms which are sometimes confused.

Gospel musicians are BAAAAADDDDD, and I don't mean BAAAAADDDDD in any kind of way that might infer they don't know how to play. Most of them can play several instruments really, really well.

Some non-Christians accuse Christians of being judgmental. Some Christians are indeed judgmental, which isn't part of my game.

I ask of you as a non-Christian that you don't judge me as a intolerant closed minded Christian. I don't like those people either.

I ask you as a Christian to continue to stretch your understanding of who God is, where he can be found, what he is capable of, and who can teach you about him.

I've learned way more about God and spirituality from people who have been as low as any alive man can be and still be alive.

I met a man in a hospital once who was going to be facing another DWI charge, only this time it involved manslaughter. The previous night he had gotten drunk and killed a woman driver. He was in the hospital recovering from his own injuries and was worried about what was going to happen to him.

He reminded another saying that is mentioned in 12 step programs: 'There but for the grace of God go I.'

Even though I never have drank alcohol I know that I could easily face legal, medical and all kinds of problems related to addiction.

He also reminded me that whatever is going on in our life, we have to take it one day at a time. If I worry today about what's going to happen later in the week, whether it be a legal sentence or playing music in front of people, then I'm going to lose my serenity fast. I can only be responsible for what's directly in front of me, one step at a time.

John didn't know Paul at the time of their discussion in Rockport, but 8 years ago, Paul met Miriam in Austin, TX as part of his continuing spiritual journey.

They were visiting on a Monday night, and Miriam told Paul that soon people would be arriving for her weekly Bible Study.

The first person to walk in the door was Miriam's brother, John.

Unaware that John was Miriam's brother, or that John was even in Austin, Paul immediately recognized the man he had seen many years before, and of course John remembered Paul.

"That man saved my life."


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