The crux of the matter by Ros Bayes

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Cross on the Hill By Jean Ann Fitzhugh.

This year
at my church we’ve spent the year so far looking at 1 Corinthians 2.2 – “I
determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”  Why was this so crucial to the apostle Paul’s
modus operandi?  And for me as a Christian
writer, how does it apply in what I’m doing? 
I’ve also been reading deliberately slowly through the book of Acts, and
posting my take on it on my blog (until my laptop died and called a temporary
halt to blogging!).  I noticed that in all of Peter’s sermons and preaching in
the book of Acts, he always put the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at the heart of
all he had to say.

I recently
had the privilege of spending a couple of weeks with a group of young women
from traumatic backgrounds, sharing life with them, doing some handicrafts and
sharing my own story of God’s goodness and faithfulness in my life even through
quite traumatic circumstances.  Because
of the Bible meditation we’ve been doing at church, and because of my own
meditation in the book of Acts, I decided to give a central place to the crucifixion
of Jesus in speaking to these young women.

Most of
them didn’t come from a Christian background or have much Bible knowledge.  I was talking to them about shame, and how we
can despise the shame that people have put on us, just as Jesus
did.  I talked about how Jesus was shamed
at his crucifixion – beaten, taunted, his clothes taken from him – and yet
because there was a joy set before him he could pour scorn on the shame itself.

One of the
young women asked me, “When they did all those things to Jesus – beat him and
said those things and took away his clothes – what did he say?”  And it was a delight to see the wonder and
astonishment on her face when I told her he prayed, “Father, forgive them, they
don’t know what they’re doing.”  I saw at
first hand the power of doing what Paul said he was going to do – making the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the heart of everything he had to say.  I saw these young women open themselves to Jesus
as the beauty of his character attracted them, and some asked for prayer or
expressed a desire to know him more.

That got me
thinking about how we can do that in our writing.  It’s not hard if we’re writing something of a
theological or spiritual nature.  But
what about those who write novels?  We
don’t want to be preaching at our audience. 
I once had to help ghost-write a story for an Indian pastor who had the
idea of putting the great themes of systematic theology into a novel as a way
of making them easier for his congregation to access.  The trouble was, his first draft of the story
had chapter after chapter of the young protagonist asking his pastor questions
and having the pastor sit and read long passages out of the Bible to him.  It was a preach, not a story.  My task was to take those great Biblical
themes and weave them into the events of his life so that he encountered God’s
truth in his everyday circumstances.

But what of
those who are writing stories which are not overtly Christian in content, even
though the underpinning ethos of the author may be a Christian one?  How can they “know nothing… except Jesus
Christ and him crucified” in their work? 
I think that as we weave the values that we see in the cross – grace,
love, justice, self-giving, peace in the storm, forgiveness, reconciliation –
into the lives of our characters, we are silently and unobtrusively holding up that pivotal moment of history
when God reconciled humankind to himself and showing how it makes sense of all
of life and human history.  And that,
hopefully, will start our readers on a journey of enquiry and searching to find
the source of these values.  And God’s
promise is that those who seek him, who search for him with all their hearts,
will find him.

 Ros Bayes has 10 published and 4 self-published books, as well as some 3
dozen magazine articles. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom
has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through
the Roof (www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer,
and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find
her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/. 

 

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