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An Audience of One

October 30, 2016
Page from Dante's

Page from Dante’s “Inferno” (PD-Art l Art-old)

Oh that my words were written!  Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (Job 19: 23).

Those of us who write and/or minister naturally long for an audience, a congregation.  Bubbling over with words, we ache to share our thoughts and feelings, even more so to share our faith.

Sometimes, we write simply to express ourselves, for instance, in a personal journal.  This is “art for art’s sake” or private prayer.  Other times, we want to make a splash!  Sometimes, we speak in a representative capacity, in public prayer, articulating what many may experience but most find difficult to express.

We write on topics ranging from the secular to the sacred, the silly to the sublime, as God moves us.  But, whatever the topic, we want a receptive audience, an engaged congregation – usually the bigger, the better.

Audience (and Congregation) Size

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count…” (Rev. 7: 9).

Online, the size of our audience is touted as its foremost characteristic.  The goal, in that context, is material, specifically commercial, as in the sale of goods and services.

Politically, size again matters.  We hear how many were present at a rally; how many tuned in to watch a televised debate.  The goal, in that case, is the “sale” of a candidate and his/her ideas.

All too often, the Gospel (or what purports to be the Gospel) is peddled this way, too – as if it were another commodity.  Step right up.  Make your bargain with God.  Get your blessings here, postage and handling not included.

These days audiences and congregations are, also, dissected by their component parts.  Is a certain blog or ministry sufficiently appealing to millennials?  What percentage of readers are over age 55?  Does an article adequately target liberals?  How about gun owners?  Evangelicals?

Never mind the truth.

Work Product Quality

For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matt. 7: 13).

However, the size of an audience or congregation is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of a writer’s work or the real impact of a ministry.

The YouTube video of the song “Gangnam Style” has been watched over 2 billion times.  How many can knowledgeably discuss Albert Einstein’s scientific publications?  How many have read Victor Hugo in the original French or can compare him with Baudelaire?

Followers

What I mean is this:  Individuals among you are saying, ‘I follow Paul,’ ‘I follow Apollos,’ ‘I follow Cephas,’ or ‘I follow Christ.’  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1: 12-13).

The issue is not audience or congregation size.  It is how many men and women actually surrender their hearts to Christ.  And have we surrendered ours?

An Audience of One

And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them” (Ps. 139: 16).

As a friend recently reminded me, the post that resonates with no more than a single reader has still served a purpose.

But the piece no one reads and the sermon preached to an empty church have an audience of One we have nearly forgotten.  We have the privilege of giving a command performance before the Master of the Universe, every day of the week.  It is His opinion that matters.

God sees our efforts, even those we think have fallen flat.  He knows our dreams and aspirations, even those that have been shattered.  In fact, He sees our lives more clearly than we do.

Each tear fallen, each hand held, each laugh shared is recorded.  These tell the story of our lives and of our faith more powerfully than words alone can.

Stylish or down to earth, with a large audience or no congregation at all, we will find our way home.  God will make certain of that.

With thanks to Ron Whited, A Front Row View of the Church, http://ronwhited.wordpress.com

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  http://www.avoicereclaimed.com

 

23 Comments
  1. Dear Anna,

    A very powerful and uplifting post,as well as a gentle reminder that what we do is not about us at all. As you say,we have the privilege of giving a command performance before the Master of the Universe. I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever be counted worthy to do so. I still do not,nor do I believe I ever will.

    Thank you for putting this in perspective Anna. I am both humbled and honored to walk along side you on this incredible journey.

    • Thank you for that generous compliment, Ron, and for sharing your Christian walk. I agree completely that this life is an incredible journey. The greatest truth we can learn along the way is that we are loved by a holy God…just as we are. Like you, I will always be amazed by that.

  2. Very true Anna. Doesn’t matter who hears us. As long as we take the effort to express. As long as we hear our self. As long, as you said, it resonates with only one reader.

  3. A most beautiful reminder, Anna. I am humbled once again. Thank you and bless you. 🙂

  4. tabitha59reachingout permalink

    🙂

  5. Wonderful encouragement to us Anna. Thank you.

  6. This is another of your posts which moved me to tears, good tears 🙂 Such a great reminder that numbers don’t count as much as the impact of our words–and we may not know how much we impact the world, as not everyone expresses their response. But God, He knows…and He always responds, if we’re listening for Him ❤ Thank you, and God bless you always!

    • I’m glad the post resonated for you, Delyn. Yes, God always knows and always responds. It can be easy to forget that. May He always bless you, too. ❤

    • I always mistakenly thought that to cry was a sign of weakness. Whenever I go to counselling and I start crying, I try to make light of my tears and tell my counsellor that today I came and I never meant to cry. This I now realise is tantamount to going to a physician and being offered healing balm, but refusing it and saying I don’t deserve to be healed. This of course is a nonsense. Tears are a sign of the healing process kicking in powerfully.

      Delyn, like you, I was brought to tears halfway through reading this, right to the very end. How the Lord works is nothing short of a miracle. How blessed we all are. Thank you Father God.

  7. A very good Message Anna and it is True, we all need to feel Loved and appreciated, the Worlds Agenda says we have to achieve to receive, God tells us to accept, He Loved us first and applauds our Faith in Him knowing it will complete us as we Trust and obey because there is no other way.

    Christian Love – Anne.

  8. There will be great joy in heaven when we meet that solitary person there that our effort touched.

    • And words, of course, have a life of their own. Our work may touch someone long after we have gone on to our reward.

  9. This is beautiful and it made me cry. Such wisdom written in a way we can all understand it. Thank you. I was hoping I was the only one to read this …but no, I jest! 🙂

  10. Love this post, Anna ❤ Yup… it's all about Jesus—every word, thought and action!
    And knitting too, which you'll see when I finally get around to posting my Christmas
    pics to the blog… I'll leave it at that and keep you in suspense 😉 🙂 💜 Jackie@ KWH

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