A Bible meditation from Donita Bundy, to guide us into some deeper thinking about our task as Christian writers.
Don’t shoot the messenger is a well-known saying. Bearing the brunt of a recipient’s displeasure at receiving unwelcome news is a distinct possibility for all messengers.
That includes us – God’s postal workers. We might be delivering grace notes through our writing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a message that everyone wants to hear.
In a sense, it is irrelevant what people do with the message.
Because changing lives is not our job.
Delivering the mail is.
Our success is measured in how faithful we are in following our instructions to deliver God’s message.
Shooting the messenger
It can be discouraging when we don’t see any results or receive bad reviews.
As I was reflecting on this, I thought of Christ who came to issue God’s loving invitation in a very personal way – and was crucified.
Christ left His glory and walked among us to teach and reveal the kingdom of God. His message received a mixed response. Ultimately, he was killed because of it.
Our task is not exactly the same as Christ’s, of course. But as messengers for THE Messenger we can learn from his choices and responses.
Jesus was not naïve about what awaited him on his delivery circuit. The scorning, betrayal, and torture did not surprise Him.
He knew His message would be welcomed by a few, taken up then put aside by most, and flat-out rejected by the rest.
Yet, He still faithfully carried the message to everyone whom the Father sent Him to. And He prayed for them … us;
14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:14-19
Christ set himself apart to be a holy sacrifice that would both save us and consecrate us for God’s service.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30
Christ had achieved His goal.
But crucified and dying on the cross, what was the visible fruit of his sacrifice and ministry? His mum, cousin and a few other women remained faithful. None of them could be mistaken as “influencers”.
Thankfully, Jesus’ success that day was not measured in numbers. Rather, it was determined by his willingness to obey the Father’s command in the face of open hostility, even to death, death on a cross.
But I have been challenged to do more than take encouragement from God’s view of success. I have been convicted to look at how Christ responded to the reaction He received.
Our Lord loved, despite rejection. In fact, everything He did was about love, for love, in love:
- He met betrayal with a kiss. Judas and Peter were not condemned for their actions; the door was open for them to return.
- Jesus countered accusation with silence; His cased rested in His life’s testimony.
- The whip and chains fell upon a submissive will. The Messiah could have called down the armies of heaven to retaliate against His unjust treatment.
- Compassionate flesh absorbed piercing nails. Our Lord and Saviour prayed for those who tortured him, not condemning them for their ignorance.
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6
How can I, with a clear conscience, receive the grace Jesus prayed for, and not go and do the same? How can I be discouraged because others don’t receive my message well?
Because after all, it is not my message, it is His.
It is not for my glory, it’s for His.
As Gracewriters, we are challenged to carry hues, hints and sometimes hollers of God’s loving message through our writing, whatever form that takes.
Within the context of our own unique gifts and experiences–good, bad and ugly– blessed with the power of the Spirit, how can we but follow in the footsteps of Christ?
- Do you struggle with feelings of failure in your Gracewriting?
- How do you measure the success of your work?
- Does the command to love as Christ loved cause you to stumble?
Donita Bundy is a writer and writing teacher who was appointed the inaugural Somerset Writer in Residence in 2019. She holds a Bachelor of Ministry and has served as a school chaplain and lay minister. Her debut urban fantasy Dangerous Salvation was published in 2020, the first in a YA series of seven.