“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” – Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
This quote reminds me of this Sunday’s sermon where my pastor shared how a Muslim Imam he encountered, a refugee who had experienced many hardships, once asked him what he was studying about in his “Holy Book.” My pastor told him that he was looking at Matthew 11:28-30:
““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
After pondering this for a while, the Imam stated that he could use this kind of rest and wondered if he could get a Bible in his own language so he could read about this for himself. Of course my pastor replied that he would be happy to do so and a seed was planted in the man’s heart.
I feel this is exactly what it means to be “showing them a light that is so lovely.” After all, who doesn’t want to find rest for their soul? All this helped me see that in sharing about Christ we need to first understand what it is people are searching for and start there. My pastor’s story is an excellent example of this!
And yet, how often have I bungled things up by getting defensive in a discussion with someone and so felt the need to prove myself right? Far too often, I fear. But God does not need me to defend Him. No, He is the great “I AM” and the one “who is, and who was, and who is to come” (Exodus 3:14, Revelation 1:8). God is quite capable of taking care of Himself.
Madeleine’s book, Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, also says this later on: “If our lives are truly ‘hid with Christ in God,’ the astounding thing is that this hiddenness is revealed in all that we do and say and write. What we are is going to be visible in our art, no matter now secular (on the surface) the subject may be.” This quote is inspired by Colossians 3:2-3, “ Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
I love how Madeleine shares that this “hiddenness” will be shown through our actions and speech and writing – no matter how secular it may appear. That it permeates our thoughts and our words and our very being. Which makes me wonder if my life is hidden with Christ in such a way that it is so evident? I would like to hope so.
But one thing which occurred to me is that I may be keeping my words and my writing pigeonholed a bit by using “Christian-ese.” The Christian world is what I grew up in and where I find myself most comfortable. However, in using this type of language which comes so naturally to me, I may be alienating those for whom such words are not so common.
I think this is why I love Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, or C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It might be partly because I see the value in these books which tell Biblical truths in way that is universally understood and Christian themes in a way that isn’t preachy. They are all good examples to remember for those of us who call ourselves writers. And even for those who don’t.
Because in our everyday conversations, we all can be mindful that we are “hidden with Christ” and seek to “show others a light so lovely that they want to know the source.” To make those around us long with all their hearts to know what is behind the way we are able to live out our lives is the midst of the messiness (see my previous post). This is truly something to aspire to each and every day for those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus. And something to seek out in those around them for those who do not.