“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad 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 music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody 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.” So begins Blue Like Jazz, one of the best books on spirituality written in recent memory.
I love Miller writing style and his passion for God as it emerges from the struggle of real life. He does a masterful job of showing real people struggle with real questions about God and emerge at real answers. I’m especially touched this morning, as I get ready to preach about Abraham in Genesis 18 and his prayer for the people of Sodom, about how we can make our biggest difference in the world.
See, for most of us, we’re wired for action. For strategic plans and bullet points. We recognize the needs of the world. We believe that Jesus Christ can offer hope and peace and love and truth to people who desperately need it. And so we want to DO something to create this bridge from the world’s needs to the power of God. But as Miller reminds us above, and Scripture reiterates, it is our own passion for God that will spill out and touch others. We make our biggest impact not by doing more and more, but by being transformed by God’s love first in our heart. Jesus says, “Abide in me, and bear much fruit.” The fruit will come, Jesus promises, but only after you abide in me. Or in another place Jesus tells us it is the overflow of a man’s heart that his mouth speaks. Unless we drink in God’s love for ourselves, we’ll have nothing to offer the world. This is what it means to Inhale Christ.
There will be a time to serve and a time to act and a call to action, but before this, God calls us to sit at His feet and experience Him. Moses tells the people of Israel, “The Lord will fight for you! You need only to be still.”
So what do you love? What will people watching your life, like Miller watches the jazz player, learn what you care about? Inhale Christ and be transformed in your heart first. The Lord will fight for you. I promise.