A while ago I made a weak attempt at humor with my post about hearing something different than was spoken to me.
Today is part two on a similar theme, getting serious this time about understanding something different than was actually communicated. Through this process you might get a glimpse into the heart and mind of non-Christian and even some Christian readers as well.
To be blunt, Christians understand things non-Christ-followers do not. In fact, those who don’t follow Christ are literally blind and deaf to some things we see and hear clearly. Hearing the words of an non-believer should trigger something within the mind and heart of a believer, which is often different than what was actually spoken.
Maybe some of you remember your thought-processes before you became a Christ-follower. They are much different now aren’t they?
For instance, the level of panic exhibited over a situation is directly related to how much a person trusts God.
“We are all going to die in a climate change catastrophe unless we do something!” I hear, “I don’t trust God. He is not in control. We are.”
“The Bible says not to judge,” really means “I don’t want anyone to tell me I am doing anything wrong. I refuse to admit I am in error.”
“Jesus was just a good man,” should be translated, “If I admit he was more, then I need to do something about it and change my life. I don’t want to change.”
“The terrorists just need good jobs,” indicates, “I want the solution to everything to involve something we can control. If the problem was sin and evil it would need a spiritual solution and I want to avoid it. We are in control of this world, not God. ”
“The most important thing in the world is to get a good education,” means, “If we are well-enough educated we don’t need God. We can do this ourselves.” (By the way, Satan has been using this tactic since the Garden of Eden. It’s an old trick.)
No matter what book you might write or publish, it is going into a world which is hard of hearing at best and at worst, has no idea what you are talking about, or even want to know about.
It’s like you are speaking a different language entirely.
Think of some words commonly used in Scripture and by Christians to describe how we need to respond to God:
None of these words translate to something we naturally desire to do, like admitting we have been wrong. The entire concept of some of them makes us chafe a bit even as believers.
“So, let me get this straight, I need to admit I am wrong, give up control of my life, obey something or someone else and follow them? Um, no…I have not done anything wrong, I am in control, I am smart, I am my own person and my favorite song is I Did It My Way.”
Now, go ahead and try to communicate to someone who doesn’t want to admit they were wrong, justifies their behavior, refuses to give it up or follow someone else’ rules and you can get an idea how difficult it is to communicate to the world about Jesus.
Sure, you can focus on the “fun” Christian words like blessings, new, freedom, mercy, forgiveness and even more blessings, but the list of “less-fun” words, the friction-words, are still lurking in the background waiting to be written and communicated as well. Christian truth is a total package of the simple and complicated. The easy and tough. The calming and the disconcerting.
If you desire to communicate Christian truth, here is the key point to remember when you write:
The third person of the Trinity is at work, going before you. The Spirit is already at work tomorrow and next year, cultivating the soil, watering the seeds you planted last week, sending sun to help them grow, opening eyes to see, opening ears to hear and hearts to understand.
So relax, write a great piece of fiction or a compelling non-fiction narrative to inspire, inform, encourage or point to a better life. Plant seeds and do everything you can to get the word out. Create great characters, dialogue and stories. Get the punctuation and grammar correct.
Just leave the translation work to God.