There's something I've been pondering and praying lately, especially as I drive through downtown on my way to work three days a week.
I drive pass the homeless standing on corners with their wilted cardboard signs, glimpse the glittering lights of the casinos and the not-so-gentlemanly "gentlemen" clubs a block to the right, and see the Tarot card reader/psychic building with it's neon sign to my left. I watch numerous minorities pile on the buses at the dirty bus depot, while across the street, well-dressed men and women in pressed businesssuits and briefcases, toting cups of Starbucks, waltz into their places of work. I see the top of the church steeple beside my office towering over the street, while joggers in sports bras and windshorts rush by it's shadow, right past another homeless man still sleeping in the shelter of the church's door.
And I wonder...do I really see them? Do I see them as Jesus does? Or do I see them as an inconvenience? A misfit of society? Or a ministry waiting to happen? Do I see lost souls beneath the rags and the name-brand suits? Or do I just see the exterior shell?
I've been praying lately that I will start see God's people as He does. That my heart won't be hardened by fear or indifference, but softened with love and compassion. That I'll be full of mercy instead of judgment. That I'll be willing to give instead of grip my purse tighter to my side. That I'll look them in the eye and smile -- all of them -- without thought to race, gender, or wealth.
And I hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll see a little bit of Jesus in me.
What about your characters in your story? How do they see the world? Are they jaded, or desperate to help? Are they afraid, or eager to give?
Then spin it. How does the world see your character? What would I see in your character if they passed me on the downtown street?
Dive a step deeper into your characterization today in your novel. And while you're studying your fictional characters, maybe you'll get a fresh glimpse of the realistic characters God has placed in your life.
We might be the only Jesus they ever see.
And our characters might portray the only Jesus a reader might ever read.