Way back when, I was considering writing a book of children’s stories, a “how-to” manual for fellow ministers who weren’t as creative or were simply looking to ease their Sunday prep duties. The book was to include diagrams and illustrations so make the teaching easier, as many people are visual learners rather than readers. I even had a friend in mine to handle the drawings, so I was all set.
Except I wasn’t.
After talking to my friend and a couple of others in the publishing business, it turns out that publishers want their own artists to illustrate their books. This, and a few other factors, led to me drop the project, but I always wondered why publishers would be such sticklers about who did their drawings.
A recent conversation with an artist who was illustrating a book for a friend that was to be published privately finally filled in that blank. It turns out, quite logically, that publishers have their own standards for what is to appear in their books. Choosing their own illustrators gives them a known quantity and greater control over the finished product. While I might have a brilliant artist in mind, the publishing house doesn’t necessarily know that. What’s more, what I look for in a drawing might not fit the particular style or standard for the publisher, so even though my friend might be a fabulous artist, they might not be the kind of fabulous the publisher is looking for.
Publishing standards might vary from company to company, and from business to business, but if they are going to stay viable they all have to follow similar standards for both customers and employees. Fairness, honesty, kindness are the minimum standard companies have to expect of the people they hire and serve, standards which hopefully reflect the expectations of the particular society in which those companies operate.
Followers of Christ have a high standard to follow. His expectations for us are more than just honouring one another. Jesus calls us to love our neighbour, the stranger in our midst, and even our enemies. That love includes caring for them, feeding them, supporting them, and generally doing to and for them what we would like to have done to and for us. Jesus’ standards for us are high, but they are also remarkably easy and equal across the board.
There are no exemptions or special cases. No one is to be left out or avoided. Everyone is included. Everyone is welcomed. Sadly, standard behaviour for Jesus isn’t so for a lot of people. It is my prayer, however, that one day no one will give it a second thought. My prayer is that one day, Jesus’ high standard for humanity is nothing more than second nature.