I take my responsibility of teaching very seriously. You see, I used to teach seventh and eighth graders—a task I equate with trying to tame electric shrieking eels. (Princess Bride, anyone?) So tomorrow I leave for a long week to teach at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. I’m spending four sessions speaking about the inside-out-ness of fiction writing, that the stories we write flow from our hearts.
I have the talks down, but I’m still ruminating about one aspect of the talks: Jesus. The question that keeps noodling me is “How does our own perception of Jesus Christ alter the way we write our stories?” Or, better put, “How does Jesus change the power of our prose?” Of course the answer is that, as we encounter Jesus, our prose will radically be changed. Our stories will reflect more of His winsomeness, His upside-down ways.
Who is Jesus? It’s a fundamental question all of us must grapple with. Is He an angry deity who shakes His head at us every time we fail? Is He a kindly surfer, a sort of Super Golden Retriever who fetches whatever we need when we need it? Is He a Junior High Crush where we sing Him poorly written praise songs ad infinitum? Is He a Straight-Laced Jesus who follows us around with clipboard and pen, checking off our failures? Is He the Friend Jesus who pals around with us, no matter what our choices? Who is Jesus?
And if we see Him in different guises, how does that affect our writing? What kind of redemption do we show in light of our view of Jesus? Are we willing to have Jesus blow our categories? How big IS Jesus?
This is where my mind goes when I’m readying myself to teach: a huge jumble of questions I’m not sure I can answer. So pray for me as I cross the Atlantic tomorrow. Pray my words would touch others. But more than that, pray Jesus’ words would make their way through this very frail vessel to inspire others.