If you are a writer or blogger, I have a question for you.
Who do you picture as you write?
In writing courses, this imaginary person represents your ideal reader or customer.
Some call it writing for your “avatar.”
You create this imaginary person by determining your ideal reader’s…
- Goals and values.
- Sources of information.
- Age, gender, religion, family status, education, and location.
- Needs and areas where they need help.
- Habits, hopes, dreams, and values.
Now it’s possible that I just have a lousy imagination but this has always been hard for me. I’ve never been able to picture some fictional character created by a generic list in my mind when I’m pouring my heart out in a post.
An avatar just isn’t personal enough for me.
Which is one of the reasons I love receiving your comments and prayer requests. You see, I want to picture you when I’m writing … just a couple of good friends, sitting at our favorite coffee shop, talking and praying about life’s challenges.
I want to know you!
I want to talk with you, not at you.
Because that’s how friendships grow.
One on one! One conversation at a time!
But this isn’t just a truth for writing; this is a truth for life!
You are More Than an Avatar
Jesus told His followers He was giving “a new commandment” when He said:
Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34
So, I decided to take a closer look at the way Jesus “loved” people.
True, He taught multitudes, healed crowds, and fed thousands. And those things showed us a great deal about His love in general.
But the moments that grab my heart most when I study Scripture, are Jesus personal interactions with people. The one on one, look them in the eye ways He loved the individuals around Him.
Jesus saw persons over people.
Uniquely created human beings in need of…
Whether they were His followers or not … Jesus loved souls.
One account that always touches me is – The Rich Young Man in Mark 10:17–31:
He came to Jesus with a question?
“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus responded by reminding him of the commandments and the young man replied…
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”
Then as if there was a pause in the action … Jesus didn’t correct him. He didn’t put him in his place. He didn’t give him a quick run down of all the ways he had fallen short … although He could have done so easily.
His reaction to the young man’s foolishness and pride was…
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him.v. 21
Love asks questions and listens to answers and gently and respectfully offers a better way…
“Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus loved him enough to gently invite him to give up his pride and dependence on things that cannot last … t0 follow Him, the One who could give a treasure that lasts forever!
And although Jesus already knew how the young man would respond, He lovingly offered the best He had to give.
I’m also inspired by the account of The Woman at the Well in John 4.
This woman was 1. a Samaritan, a mixed race hated by the Jews 2. known for having had several husbands and she’d moved on to living with a man to whom she was not married 3. women didn’t talk to men with whom they were not related in public.
Based on the expectations of the culture – no respectable Jewish man would have stopped to talk to her.
But Jesus did.
And once again, He asked questions. Listened to responses. And offered hope-filled life-giving truth, when He said:
I am the Messiah!v. 26
And through their conversation, an entire community came to know Jesus.
“Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves. Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Jesus didn’t preach at some ideally imagined avatar.
He talked to young and old; men and women; Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles; Temple visitors and those who had never even entered synagogue; sick and healthy, rich and poor … anyone who would talk with Him. And each time, He asked questions. He listened and He lovingly and gently spoke the truth.
Friend, you are so much more than an avatar!
You are uniquely and wonderfully made.
You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.Psalm 139:13–14 (VOICE)
The Lord knows everything about you.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!Psalm 139:1–4 (NLT)
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
And He loves you!
For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us.
Since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.Romans 5:5–6, 10–11
And because He loves you and me and everyone else so much, He has called us to love each other not simply look at each other as avatars.
I understand that politics and marketing are in the business of defining and labeling us. People who want us to buy what they are selling, benefit when you and I define each other by gender, race, religion, income, and level of education.
But when we believe that those labels define a person, we ignore the unique physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual parts of their make-up that have molded them into the extraordinary one-of-a-kind soul God loves. A soul God wants you and me to get to know and love as well.
I can’t tell who or what broke your heart by the color of your skin. I won’t know what stresses you out or frightens you by the level of your education. I will never know what you’re passionate about by your gender alone.
I can’t know if you lost your job, lost a child, or if you struggle with the pain of rejection. I don’t know if you are fighting a chronic illness or if the doctors recently gave you a frightening diagnosis. And I can’t see whether you’re having a great day or if today you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide.
Your gender, race, religion, income and education will never tell me your personal story … your past hurts, the people who helped and encouraged you, your successes, joys, hopes, and dreams. Those are things unique to you … and I want to know you.
So, I have not created my ideal reader avatar and I never will.
It’s okay if you have. Every blogging course I’ve ever taken has recommended it.
But maybe, for just a moment, you and I can stop in person and online and get to know each other as individuals. We can stop for a bit and ask questions, listen, and share the Truth that gives life.
For people who know and love Jesus, it’s not about selling a product or point of view. It’s all about inviting people into a forever relationship with the One who created them, who knows the number of hairs on their head, who loves them so much He gave His life for them, who cares about their wants and needs, their regrets and fears, their hopes and dreams today … just as much as He cares about their eternal futures.
Friend, you are more than an avatar. You are uniquely and wonderfully made. You are loved by the King of kings and Lord of lords. You are precious to Him and so is every other person on the planet.
So, whatever your gender, race, religion, income, or level of education … I want to get to know you. Please tell me your story. Leave a comment or a prayer request. So I can picture you sitting across the table from me at our favorite coffee shop as I tell you about Jesus, the One who transformed my life and set me free.
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