The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.~Vladimir Nabakov
I have been challenged recently in what is the purpose of my blogging. One of my favorite bloggers I follow, Rachel Meeks at Small Notebook, talks not only about simplifying life--what you eat, what you wear, your schedule--but also your blog, and her comments on simplifying blogging include the fact that if you're going to blog, you need to have a good reason, or else you're just complicating your life. Why should you care about simplifying life like this? Because the less time you spend doing other things means more time spent with the people who matter.
And that's her reason for blogging: to share what she is learning about living simply. That's her passion, and it's what fuels her blog. This has recently challenged me as I've been trying to trim down on the amount of time I spend composing posts: what am I really blogging for? Who am I blogging for?
I know the answer right away. I know the 'who' best of all. The audience I aim for with my blog is the same one I aim for in my life.
Reading my blog, it will be very apparent to you that I'm a christian and I love Jesus a lot! But I don't like the idea of shutting myself into christian community and hiding from everyone else. Sure, I love my christian friends! But I also love my friends who are atheists and agnostics, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu, new age experimentalists, those who are still figuring it out, those who don't really care...it's fun and exciting to talk about our worldviews and to learn from our differences, but more than that, I simply love living life alongside each other. You know, as friends. I don't discriminate my friends, or even the depth of my friendships, based on what we believe. I don't think it's logical, and I don't think it's christian either. Jesus hung out with people of every type! Some of my dearest friends and I disagree on key issues in life, spirituality, or the way we handle things, but that has not deterred us from being close for years past and years to come.
In college, I was determined to be in a christian community so that I could have friends who encouraged me and held me accountable when I wasn't loving Christ like I want to or claim to. It's true that we need each other and can't walk this life alone. But I didn't want christian friends whose only friends were more christians; I wanted christian friends who were like me, with diverse connections. I don't understand how a person can so uniformly, and I knew I could never fully connect with people who are intent on hiding from "the world." I'm not afraid of the questions and issues out there. I'm not afraid that God could be disproved. To me, that's like saying my parents don't exist! Of course they exist, I've known them all my life. If you've seen Jesus do stuff and heard him speak, why should you be afraid of people who don't think he's real? If you're afraid, you may not really believe what you think you do, and you should do some soul-searching and see where you're really at.
With that criteria for a church group, I came to College Life, a christian fellowship at UC Davis that at the time was small--perhaps 60 people when I first began attending. But I was drawn in by their sort of catchphrase mission statement: "We're a community for two kinds of people: those who know Jesus and want to know him better, and those who don't and are just interested in learning more about him and about christianity." Perfect. Here was a group of people who wanted to know more about God in the real world. They don't shut themselves away: they want to know God as he is and as he interacts with us. They're not afraid of asking hard questions, nor of having no good answers. They truly want to find truth, not merely convenience. They want to make sense of God within the reality of life, not meld their lifestyle to fit preconceived beliefs about God.
College Life instilled in me the confidence that what I already believed was possible on a practical level: to learn about Jesus, get to know Jesus, and learn how to follow him in new ways and new areas of life while still living alongside people who don't, being able to dialog together, grapple with life's questions together, and live our diverse lives alongside each other. I believe that the "stuff of life" is the same for all of us and that we all grapple with the same basic questions of existence, purpose, value, and action. We all are asking the same things and ultimately seeking the same answers.
So that's who this blog is for: those who know Jesus and those who don't: those who want true answers rather than convenient or feel-good justifications.
The purpose of the blog is simple: to ask questions about Jesus, the Bible, and christian life, and seek answers to those questions based on experience, observation, logic, and study. I'm not dispensing truth; I'm sharing thoughts and hypotheses based on experience, observation, and study. I welcome comments. I want to learn and I want to share what I've learned. And whatever the question or the answer, I want it to be accessible to anyone regardless of who they believe Jesus is.
There's a secondary purpose for this blog, though. I also want to share my life with you. Not in a self-centered way; rather, I have a lot of passions and I'm working out how to live those passions practically everyday. Part of following Jesus means learning how to live according to your convictions. Convictions can be messy and cumbersome. I am convinced, for instance, of the fact of slavery in our day and of the horror that slavery is to anyone oppressed by it--both the victims and the perpetrators. But to truly live faithful to this conviction means a change of lifestyle in what/whether we buy and consume, dedicating time to become educated, and much more. It's a lot of work. Sometimes it's discouraging. But as a christian, I am convinced it is my job to stay true to this.
So I'm not just blogging about the heart-questions and mind-questions we have about Jesus: the "how could a good God allow evil in the world" or "if God knows everything before it happens, how come he lets us experience consequences to bad choices" kind of questions. Those are questions that affect how we feel and think about God. I'm also blogging about the questions of how we act in relation to God. If you were to believe in Jesus, live life with Jesus, what would that look like? What should it look like? How do you do it? Where does the strength or perseverance or knowledge come from? Why doesn't it always look like that in Jesus-followers we see around us?
And so I named my blog, "The Reign of Grace." If Jesus is reigning as king and is a gracious God...well, who is he? What does that mean? What is his grace like? How does it all apply to us? This is a blog about Jesus and about life with Jesus. It's for all people anywhere: anyone who is interested. I don't use christian words or slang or anything. I try to never rag on anyone, even the perpetrators of injustice, but try to look at things from every angle and play devil's advocate against the things I've been taught as "normal" by my culture. I just ask questions, and share potential answers. I hope that you find as much benefit as I do from writing out these posts and being forced to think deeply and be uncomfortable. Live true and ask big questions.