Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A life without "others"

At some point in this year of writing, I decided, I'm not a Christian writer. I could be, because I'm comfortable with this topic and language, but I prefer the challenge of speaking beyond my comfort zone. I don't want to write to "us" and not "them." I want simply to be a writer whose faith is intricately interwoven in everything she does, somedays directly expressed and others not. To write because I have received the grace to do it, because I love the one who gives me that grace and am loved by him, because I am convinced that this same grace and love are meant to be shared with all who hunger for it.

Right now I'm caught up in reading four books. The author of one of them, Ragamuffin gospel, says a lot of really honest things and I like him for it. In one section, he's making a point about what it means to be a person of true faith and he uses his position on abortion as an example in a refreshing way:

We are not pro-life simply because we are warding off death. We are pro-life to the extent that we are men and women for others, all others; to the extent that no human flesh is a stranger to us; to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love; to the extent that for us there are no "others."

I think Christians, unfortunately, have a hurtful reputation of assuming an "us" and "them" attitude toward life. I've been a part of that over the years whether I've wanted to or not. To a real degree, there's no way entirely around it, fundamentally, because to a post-modern thinker who is not a part of the Christian faith, who we believe Jesus to be is a huge stumbling block. The Christian faith will always be exclusive, never the cool or trendy thing to believe.

The thing we don't seem to understand is that our exclusive view on Jesus is to be lived in the same manner in which we received his gift of grace. It is meant to be translated into a life of love that knows no bounds - religiously, culturally, ethnically, socioeconomically, racially, politically, or other. Sadly, we have not done the best job of living that. We have lived, often, treating people as "others," as strangers, instead of as family. This is where Christianity begins to morph into something unrecognizable, something that doesn't look like Jesus.

Why write about all this Christian stuff, when I've just gone to all the trouble of saying I'm not a Christian writer? Maybe because I hope to make it clear that, though some of my beliefs may make some of my readers feel uncomfortable or that they can't relate, I hope in my writing the thing that speaks the loudest are not differences of belief or opinion, but love, grace, joy, hope, authenticity and peace. Because all of us, regardless of what we believe, hunger to know these in our lives.

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