As a preacher I enjoy feedback, especially when people have a roving microphone to use for questions or comments.
Sometimes my newspaper columns draw written feedback; but nothing so dramatic as for the preacher who was no stranger to controversy. One Sunday, when leaving for church, he saw an envelope in his mailbox. Pulling it out, he found it had no stamp or return address.
Inside was a folded sheet, which he opened to find a single word: “FOOL!”
Later, in the pulpit, he showed everyone the letter and read its contents, then declared: “I often receive anonymous letters, but never before has a correspondent signed his name and left no message!”
Starting a website opens me up to blogging feedback, which I’m finding is a different animal to a chat line with its signed-up members, for this feedback can come from anywhere on the planet. (I didn’t planet that way, but I can live with it!)
This blog relates to a letter I recently received - under my study door. It was signed (interestingly enough) by Joe Bloggs, a self-defined unbeliever. Joe Bloggs has long been one of those created anonymous names - like John Doe or John Citizen - which official agencies use to show how their forms or applications should be completed.
Joe’s letter was in reply to one of my newspaper articles. He wrote how a friend had suffered religious abuse, and dared me to include this fable in a future article.
“Jesus descended into hell after his death and set everyone free. The devil felt this was most unfair and asked what he was going to do. Jesus promised to send him all the self-righteous people, and his troubles would be over.”
My next article included Joe’s fable, and it continued as follows:
“I don’t know your friend’s experience, Joe. But I’ve also been gazumped by “good” people who enjoy making life a hell on earth for anyone who gets in their way; only to find God taking the pain on board and producing greater results than my broken dreams or their brutal fears could have ever realised.
“Could I suggest that God is closer than you think? Our strongest relationships reflect his nature in our midst; just like our hunger for fair play when innocent people suffer. If God did not exist, it wouldn’t matter what people did to us - good or bad.
“But sensing that it does matter is a clue that we have a special status in our world, which comes from God loving us. Through Jesus Christ, he knows what it’s like to be one of us, and to have suspicion, hatred and manipulation heaped onto him from the most moral people of his day.
“In his death he absorbed it all; so he could drain its full effects; and replaced it with the acceptance and forgiveness that he makes available for anyone to receive. So he can help us to break free when our past pain tries to compress our present, to deaden our dreams and to inhibit our effectiveness in our world.
“This mightn’t answer all your questions Joe, but I’d like to talk with you personally."
Please let me know how you might have answered Joe’s letter, and comment by NAME:
Steve 10/19: I think Joe is as arrogant as the self-righteous people he is complaining about.
Angela 10/22: Joe needs to repent for himself. His friend will not plead for him at the Last Judgement. Only Jesus Christ can do that, and only if Joe’s name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life!
Winsome 10/25: I wonder if Joe is the one who has suffered, but who has invented “a friend” to cover for him.
Harvey 10/29 Joe has rejected God, so don’t waste time on him. For people who are open to believe, no argument is necessary, but for those who refuse to believe, no argument is good enough.
Marvin 10/31: Joe has a point, because Christians can get too caught up in seeking their own comfort instead of caring about others’ needs and feelings.
Kerrie 11/1 I think it’s sad that we can share our deepest thoughts by blogging on our computers, all the while ignoring whatever hurts our next-door neighbours might be going through.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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