I write as a matter of faith, casting “my bread upon the waters.” My belief is that some of value will be accepted as valuable, and there will be feedback concerning its value. In our society, that is generally played out in a supply-demand cycle, and the medium of exchange is money.
I have not been paid except in the form of testimonies of how my writing has impacted others. That is good enough for me. I have so much to learn, not only about writing, but about the purpose of writing. A radical shift in motivation is still underway in my spirit: this isn’t in the least about me. I love an expression I found in a book on this subject: “I am just the donkey Jesus rode in on.”
Yesterday, a friend shared with me how the short story “The Widow” impacted her. She said she read it several times, and each time it connected with her differently. She saw herself, she said, in different ways as she responded to different parts of the story. That was a wonderful “compensation” for my efforts. I knew then that the Holy Spirit had been at work in my effort, just as I had asked. A good story is just a good story. A God story has the power to heal, to restore, to give hope, even if the ending is not “happy.” I think I did that in writing “The Widow” and I will, by God’s grace, be doing it again and again.
In another instance yesterday, I received more “feedback” that God approves of my selection of topics even as I get little or no feedback. I had just finished an essay that same morning on the issue of gay marriage. [See this blog for article posted 10/30/2010].
That essay required me to set the context for how Jesus might view homosexuals. He would love them. It’s that simple. He would not condemn or judge homosexuals, and he would include them in his circle of influence.
He would love mothers who abort their children, he would love criminals on death row, he would love drug dealers, he would love rapists, he would love greedy market capitalist swindlers, he would love everyone. Only with that point clearly in place is it possible for a Christ follower to address the hard social issues we face, including the issues of gay marriage, abortion, immigration, families, education, the death penalty, access to justice, economic policy, and international relations.
So, in the serendipity of life, yesterday, as I listened to a message about “Why Jesus Hates Religion” the speaker noted that we can easily use “religion” to exclude whole groups of people, and he listed homosexuals. The connection to that statement and my essay struck me, and I realized I was on the “right track” even if I get no positive (and maybe some negative) on the premise of the essay.
I am going on a little jaunt today with some of my friends. We will be spending the day in Hollywood, watching Phantom of the Opera, having dinner, and watching some of the Hollywood crowd on the streets at Halloween. We will be outside our insulated Orange County Circle, and seeing people and life styles very different than ours. What will be the voices in our heads? Will we judge, will we label and shelf, without looking more deeply? Will we respond from a rigid rule based perspective driven by anxiety, or will be see our fellow citizens as just people, people extremely precious in the eyes of the One God who created us?
I am convinced we cannot influence people in any positive lasting way if we do not love them, and if they do not perceive that we love them. That love first means respect and dignity. They must see that we value them, and hold them in a certain “awe” that was described by Martin Buber as the “I — Thou” relation. Only then will Jesus be visible to them. That Holy Person is more than sufficient to work a miracle of transformation without our religion.