From my friend, Tim Corder, who asked the question that led to my two posts on this issue.....
I'll be honest. My first thought upon reading these two blog entries was, "Nice non-answer". But when I started thinking about them I realized that, far from being a "non-answer", it was, in fact, a very good answer. True, it wasn't the answer I might have been expecting, or hoping for, or even wanting. But it was, an answer I needed.
We can skip right over the answers I might have been expecting or hoping for and go straight to the one I was wanting, since that is the only one that really mattered to me at the time I asked the question. Basically, what I was wanting was validation for what I was already feeling. I wanted someone to tell me it was OK to feel anger and frustration towards people whose actions didn't reflect my interpretation of scripture, even while they claimed to share the same basic beliefs.
I mean, how dare they interpret the scriptures differently than I do! How dare they bring disgrace and ridicule of others down on my religion! How dare they base their relationship with God on hatred and intolerance when they are supposed to base it on love and acceptance! How dare they not do what I think they should be doing! How dare they call themselves Christians when they are not behaving the way I think Christians should behave.
And this brings us right up to the point where the answer you gave was one I needed. I was focusing on the wrong side of the issue. The important thing where my personal relationship to God is concerned is not what another person does or does not do when struggling with these issues. What is important is how I relate to that person and their choices and their actions, even if I will never meet them. If all I am concentrating on is my anger and frustration towards them because of their choices or positions or actions, then I am ignoring the "plank in my own eye". It is not their actions that are having an impact on my relationship with God (or, for that matter, anyone else's relationship), it is my reaction to their actions that is the stumbling block.
So, thank you for giving me an answer that showed me that. And that's how God answers our questions, isn't it. He doesn't always give us the answers that we might expect or hope for or want. But He can always be counted on to give us the answers we need.
What is my mission as an author? It's a tough question, but I believe the goal dearest to my heart is to help Christians think about what they really believe and then to act as if they really believe it. It all begins with understanding what it means to be a Christian. Then we have to learn to live like a Christian.