Being an opinion writer is a lot like being a musician: you chirp a lot what’s on your heart and sometimes take requests.
Over the past few years, I’ve often been asked to write about specific topics. I get a little nervous and out of sorts when this happens, quite honestly. It always goes something like this:
“Ya know, Lori, you really need to write about (insert topic.)” Then the requester goes on to tell me exactly how they feel about the subject and I proceed to smile and nod considering which one of the ten commandments I’ve just been asked to enforce as a policewoman.
Don’t get me wrong, I value others’ opinions as well as biblical moral standards. I am a Christian which makes me both a Christian thinker and a Christian writer. But when I’m given these requests, it’s almost always because the requester is disgusted, frustrated, and completely undone by a specific problem they see in someone else.
From prostitution to stealing to gun regulations to ten commandment signs, people think that merely telling offenders what their conscience already tells them is wrong, is wrong, will make some kind of difference. And it will. The difference will be that they realize you are no longer on their side where before they thought maybe, just maybe, Jesus and his camaraderie really were friends of sinners.
Do I believe there’s a lot wrong in the world? Absolutely. Do I believe telling people exactly what’s wrong with them will magically fix them? Absolutely not. Rather, I believe in telling the truth about my own failures and evil inclinations publicly, not theirs. And it’s taken me a long time to get here. I was likely the worst offender in the tri-state as far as soap-boxers go.
I believe this because it’s what every single one of our New Testament writers did. Yes, there is most definitely a time to call people out along with their blatant sin. But nine times out of ten, humility, not heavy-handed homilies, is what really inspires men and women to change.
Not only is it biblical, it’s logical. If I make myself an authority over others and spout out flaws, we aren’t going to get very far before they realize how guilty I am of those very same flaws. If I make myself real instead and paint for my readers a picture of a life that must daily fight against lust, lying, laziness, and the like just the same as they; if I’m willing to be honest enough to let you knows how very often I fail and how lost and lifeless I truly am without the lavish love of a Savior who gives me grace daily because of said failures, and because I desperately need it as much (if not more!) than you do; if I show you my ceaseless, obvious true need for the gospel I claim to cling to, now, and only now, might my readers recognize their own desperate need for that gospel.
Yes, there is risk in this method. Not only will your life be an open book with your heart on your sleeve most days, but even more, the world may still see you as a hypocritical, unchanged sinner. But if you are indeed a new creation, the closer you become to Christ, your sin becomes more obvious and your pride less valueable. And, as the old American proverb says, “You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.”
I’m certainly not one for flattery or feel-good self-help speeches, either. I simply believe more in humility and truth than I do high-horse finger pointing. I’m not good while others who do the things I detest are bad. Because no one is good and I often find myself doing just that which I detest as well. Paul did, too (Romans 7.)
But God is good and Jesus Christ was perfect. Therefore, let me be known to confess rather than compare. Let me be heard in my helplessness rather than my haughtiness. Let me point to my Creator without even a hint of condescension. And with that and the disclaimer that if you ask for a topic, I will write about your struggle (not your neighbor’s), in mind, I’m now taking requests.
David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.” ~2 Samuel 6:21-22