No Different

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I’ve been thinking. People are a lot alike. Maybe more alike than we are different.

Most of us like eating chocolate ice cream right out of the container, right? But the similarities go deeper. When you were little, did you draw those little pictures of people with big head-bodies and long stick limbs? How did I know, huh? Do you ever think you’d like to be a superhero so you could save people’s kids and find your lost keys and stuff?

Me too. Just think of the implications.

We write stories about all this stuff and other people wonder how we knew all about them. We even know some dark, nasty things about them too. If we’re honest.

I wonder why we all have so much in common. And we’re even alike in this, wondering.

Everyone needs faith to survive. And yet we’ve all read books that don’t seem to require much. We all want to believe it’s God’s will that no one should die without him. And yet we all struggle to understand how we are to be a poem of his to others.

We’ve all been told, at some point or another to sit down, stop rocking the boat. We’ve all been told to stop being so negative. We’ve all thought about how much easier it would be to just sit down and be quiet.

“Many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.”

Maybe we are all alike because we’re made from the same stuff, by the same artist, for the same purpose. And maybe we all struggle with the same darkness inside, the same fears about facing it and about seeing it reflected in others.

But if this is true, then those in the dark right now are just like you and me. Their hopes and fears, their loves and losses. They’re the same. And what we think separates us–our faith–is the same faith that keeps them going every day. So maybe they don’t know yet where it comes from, how to share it, what it’s really for. Maybe we think we "found" faith, when really we only found its purpose. The only real difference between then and now, between there and here, is that single connection they’re waiting to make.

We think we’re so different from each other. But we need to look around, see what’s really going on. He’s here, but he’s also there, in the most unlikely places. And through you, maybe more will finally notice that there’s no place too dark to be redeemed.

Do you believe there is no place in human existence God can’t redeem?

As a writer, are you his ambassador?

Think of the implications.

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13 thoughts on “No Different”

  1. You’re right. And yet, we get so caught up in the differences. We point fingers and feel smug because of it.
    It is a wonderful paradox of the best stories that they often use what seems so different on the surface to show how much we have in common.

  2. I found myself saying “yup” so much in this post – yup, I’ve wondered that; yup, I’ve felt that – that I felt like those purple aliens from the Muppet Show (man, I miss that show).
    I love this post because it reminds me that I am first and foremost representing God. I just happen to do some of that through writing.

  3. I do believe God can redeem anyone or anything. Nothing is broken beyond His ability to restore. Ask the army that rose up out of a valley of dry bones. Or Lazarus.
    I also agree that we are all essentially the same. Sometimes I like to pick a random person out of a crowd and invent an elaborate history in my imagination. Like magic, suddenly everyone packed into the mall herd or trapped in the innumerable cars in rush-hour traffic becomes an individual imbued with eternal worth.
    Someone once asked me, “Where is God when a four year old is being raped?” It wasn’t a defiant question. It was wrapped in intense pain. I answered with compassion, but I said what I truly believe. “God is there.”
    On the surface it makes God seem cruel. But isn’t acknowledging His sovereignty the first step to finding beauty in the most broken places? Either our God reigns above everything or He doesn’t reign at all. If we, His people, refuse to look for Him in the midst of unspeakable anguish, how can we expect the world to find Him there?

  4. “Maybe we are all alike because we’re made from the same stuff, by the same artist, for the same purpose. And maybe we all struggle with the same darkness inside, the same fears about facing it and about seeing it reflected in others.”
    Born into sin . . .
    Jesus wept over the state of Jerusalem. He intercedes for us. He’s emotional, and the only time I’ve experienced any kind of “heavy-handedness” from God was when I refused over a longer period of time to heed His warnings about my behavior, etc. When He lowers the boom, it is to preserve our relationship with Him, not to take some joy in the punishment.
    Jeanne gave the difficult but correct answer to the hard and ugly question. How can we not picture this God weeping over the atrocities that sin produces in the people He’s created to share His vast space?
    He’s given fair warning of the horror to come, literally pleading with people to come to Him through His Word and through us, His ambassadors. When the politics and practices of religion edge out the loving call to the lost, we fail miserably.
    As writers, if we can’t capture the heart our Lord in some meaningful way on the pages of life and with pen or keyboard, we better re-examine our relationship with the SAVIOR.

  5. “…then those in the dark right now are just like you and me.”
    When I was an atheist being “witnessed” to, the Christians (and I use that term loosely) that were doing the talking didn’t want to admit they were like me. In their minds, they weren’t. They were redeemed. Set apart. Holy.
    I was not. I was the heathen, the harlot. The soul that needed saving–and they were going to do that. Why? Because they wanted glory. They wanted to report back to the others that they led me to Christ.
    A former pastor questioned my relationship with God because I solidified my relationship on a beach, alone. I did not come to the alter and recite the “sinner’s prayer” (I did not follow the rules, oh.my.)
    So while this pastor thinks I still need to be saved, I think he needs to understand who God is.
    I hope I’m never the person who forgets what the dark looks like. I don’t want to turn someone off because of an entitled attitude.

  6. Michelle, that’s God’s gift to you, an understanding of beautiful, unearnable grace.
    I sure hope you’re putting that distinction in your novels.

  7. Mick & Michelle —
    What both of you have written today is a motivator in such a huge way. It’s an awesome way to cap a week that had me wondering what it is that I’m really doing with this writing thing. This morning someone said to me, “Is it really worth it?” Meaning, is the writing really worth the fact that you have to stay up half the night (or all night) since you work all day?
    The answer? Hell, yeah . . . IF I can be amongst those that go into the unlikely places. I should never forget what I’ve come out of but even more important, I should never forget where He’d be. That’s more than just a trite WWJD deal. The fact of the matter is, the church has lost touch with what a radical He was. I want to be a radical along with Him. If it’s in my writing so be it. All I know is, I don’t want the people He’d be the first to serve, to read what I write and find HIM irrelevant.
    “He’s here, but he’s also there, in the most unlikely places. And through you, maybe more will finally notice that there’s no place too dark to be redeemed.”
    – Mick
    “I hope I’m never the person who forgets what the dark looks like. I don’t want to turn someone off because of an entitled attitude.” – Michelle

  8. “As a writer, are you his ambassador?”
    This is so true, and equally true for reviewers–which I am. I love to read and review really good books by authors who are Christians; and some of those are published by Christian publishers. But I also love to read really good books not published by CBA, or by “specified” Christian authors; and there are some good ones out there not written in the same pat phrases of faith that I hear in my church, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not valid. I think the place to draw the line is whether it honors God (not necessarily in praise words) or dishonors Him.
    I really enjoy reading your blog. You give me alot to think about.

  9. It’s funny how a single word can trigger memories of an entire period. “Ambassador” is that kind of word for me. I’m a survivor of the programmed evangelism approaches of the 1970’s and 1980’s that turned too many of us into salespeople – Knocking on doors with faux surveys, for example, so we could tell people they were going to hell, but that we had good news for them! We were ambassadors for Jesus!
    Your post reminded me of what a delicious journey it has been away from that kind of ambassadoring. One of the nicest grace-gifts in my life as a writer came from a man who’d read some of my work at a local public library writer’s group. He said, “I grew up in the church, but don’t consider myself a part of it anymore. Your story (a creative retelling of my testimony that used the metaphor of a dodgeball/bombardment game) didn’t make me feel judged like so many Christian stories I’ve heard have in the past, but made me want to hear more about Jesus.”
    Authenticity is the first line in my image of an ambassador nowadays, not a “soul winnin’ sales technique”.
    Thank God.

  10. As a friend of mine says, “when they know you truly care–they know you’re not out to get them saved or convince them to buy into your agenda–the rules change.”
    When you care it’s not us and them anymore. It’s us.

  11. We are no different. But we are also WILDLY different. If we don’t capture the first, our work can seem irrelevant. If we don’t capture the second, well… who’s going to care about all our relevant writing?

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