Jesus in the Key of G

personal essay

“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2

We all have our personal preference. Some people like their coffee black, others with cream and sugar, and others don’t like coffee at all and prefer tea. To each his or her own.

In a topic as sensitive as religion, it’s easy to get attached to personal preference in how we experience our relationship with G*d. Some people prefer the King James Bible, others the New International Version. I know I am attached to my way of seeing and learning about God. Yet, a sign of spiritual maturity suggests being open to hearing a variety of perspectives, even if it might initially grate on our nerves.

For example, my favorite hymn is Amazing Grace. This hymn epitomizes the depth of mercy G*d has towards us, and, self-centeredly, me. Yet, if I am allowed a choice, I will gravitate to certain renditions of it over others. The same words are sung in each version, but one style resonates more with me than the other.

Now, I will sit through my non-preferred version, such as opera or jazz, because my love of the hymn transcends the superficiality of the style in which it is presented. Honestly, though, afterwards when I have my own autonomy, I will erase the non-preferred sound bank and overwrite it with the one which speaks more personally to me.

Perhaps, this is a fault which can be corrected through retraining. If I force myself to repetitively listen to a version which I dislike, such as, most definitely, screamo, maybe I will grow to like it. I have taken these actions to build a bridge for unity and connection in the Christian fellowships.

The mind’s capacity for rationalization is amazing, just like the hymn. I know I have blind spots which I’m resistant to uncover. This entire post may be a grandiose rationalization of a blindspot that my rebelliousness refuses to surrender. For some, G*d presented in country or rock is the only true version. All other versions, even with the same words, are viewed as blasphemy.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. You will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5)

So, how can I dialogue with people whose preferences are so different from mine? Especially when I recognize my preferences equally grate on their nerves?

My answer: I don’t know. I am at a loss.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saves all the wretches like us.