Last week, we highlighted 5 principles to help you write with your audience in mind. These principles can be hard to stick to when you have a deeply engrained default audience, or when all your exciting ideas and new teaching points crowd out the all the space that should be given to identifying with your reader. Whether it’s the temptation to love yourself before your reader, or love your default reader before your actual one, or introduce before identifying, let Christ be your guide. (Yes, we should seek to be like Jesus even in our writing habits! Yes, theology really can drill itself down into the way we string words together!)
Let’s take our knowledge of Christ off the shelf and allow it work its way down into our daily lives—yes, even into every clank of our keyboard.
Jesus put our needs ahead of his temporary comfort or reputation. Remember this when you are tempted to put your own comfort (or your reputation in front of your peers) ahead of the needs of your actual readers. And as for identifying, remember that before introducing us to the unfathomable riches of the gospel within the new covenant, Jesus identified with us in the incarnation. He didn’t have to, but he proved he really did understand our world—to the point that he came down and got in it!—before he challenged us to follow him anywhere.
Isn’t that one of the most wonderful truths of the Bible’s story? That God in flesh would step foot on this fallen earth before he introduces us to the New one? Sure, he could scream his divine messages from an ivory tower in the heavens for the time being, and then usher us into a restored creation when the time comes, all without getting any dirt under his fingernails.
But that’s not how the story goes. He came to us. He chose to meet us right where we were on this broken, busted earth and walk with us to the new one. He put his dusty, sandaled feet right where ours were, dirt and all, and braved our turf before asking us to brave his. He identified before introducing. And we trust him all the more for it, don’t we? We follow him into new terrain because he willingly chose to first be acquainted with ours.
If Jesus can love us this way in the gospel, even to death, we can surely follow suit with something like writing, can’t we? Let’s follow him. Let’s take our knowledge of him off the shelf and allow it work its way down into our daily lives—yes, even into every clank of our keyboard. Let’s love our readers and their world just like Christ loved us and ours.