Keeping It Real In Our Writing

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Matthew 29:19 (NIV)

God calls us to make disciples of all the nations, but how are we to do that if we stay confined to our own bubble?

I mean, of course having a good group of Christian friends is beneficial and something all of us should hope to have, but we can’t stop there. God doesn’t tell us to make friends with fellow believers and then never reach out to anyone else.

He says “go and make disciples of all nations.”

As writers, what does that mean?

This might be going out on a limb, but I’d say that doesn’t mean all of us should only ever write books specifically for the Christian market.

After all, if we only stuck with our own Christian-readers crowd, how would we bring more people into that circle? Certainly not by huddling close together and calling, “Come,” without actually breaking our huddle and reaching out for them.

I’d say that we probably have a much better chance of welcoming new people in if we meet them where they’re at.

Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need marketed-as-Christian books. Quite the opposite. While it’s important for us to expand our Christian-readers community, it’s equally important for us to support our brothers and sisters who are already apart of it.

Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

1 Peter 2:2-3 (NLT)

So, I’d say that some of us might be called to write marketed-as-Christian books, but others of us might be called to write books for the “secular” market.

However, those of us that are called to write books for the “secular” market must be careful. We can’t just forget about God because we aren’t writing Christian books. We must still honor Him with our writing. 

But does that mean we should only write Christian characters doing Christian things for Christian reasons?

Feel free to challenge me when I say this, but I’d say no.

The world is full of Christians, atheists, Muslims, agnostics, Hindus, Jews, and all sorts of other people. Only representing one group of people would be to ostracize the others. Writing only about Christians would be like only writing about white middle class Americans. What about those of other religions, races, and classes?

Jesus calls us to love others. If we ostracize people in this way through our writing, are we loving them?

That being said, there’s a fine line between representing the world as diverse as it is and glorifying sinful behavior. Yes, there will be sin in our written worlds, but we cannot act like that sin is okay. To do so would be to glorify sin over God. And we must always glorify God first and foremost.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 (ESV)

For another perspective on this, one that digs deeper into writing things we don’t agree with but taking care not to glorify bad things, check out Cait’s post over on PaperFury.

The skinny of it is that I personally think it’s okay–good, even–for us as Christian writers to write about things that aren’t necessarily exclusively and always Christian so long as we are taking care to keep God at the forefront of our writing process and to honor Him, not sin, with our stories.

I mean, by reaching out of our bubble and writing the world as it is, who knows how many lives we might touch with God’s light?

Now it’s your turn. Give me your thoughts! Please! Do you agree? Disagree? Have anything to add? 

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Honoring God In Our Writing

Can we honor God with our writing even if we don’t necessarily write for the Christian market?

As someone who doesn’t usually write explicitly “Christian” books, I’d answer that with an emphatic “yes!”

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)

God might call us to write for the Christian market, and if He does, awesome! Some of us, though, He might call to write for other markets.

That doesn’t mean that we should forget about God and write whatever we feel like. Just as we must remember God and seek to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in all that we do, we must do so in our writing as well.

Because it can be hard to realize exactly how to do that when not writing explicitly Christian books, here’s a list of some of the things I do to make sure God remains at the forefront of my writing life:

  • I almost always write stories with Christian themes. 

This is, I think, a nice way to share aspects of our faith even if we aren’t necessarily writing a “faith-based” book.

  • I try to remind myself regularly that God is the one reason I’m even able to write. 

I love the song “Great Are You Lord” by Casting Crowns, specifically the lines, “It’s Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only.”

It’s a wonderful reminder that we are who we are  only because God made us that way. We have our talents because they are God’s gift to us. In turn, it only makes sense to honor Him with them always.

If we constantly remind ourselves about God’s amazing grace and how we truly do owe all to Him, I personally think it becomes a lot easier to honor Him in all that we do.

  • I spend time with God. 

This goes hand in hand with the previous point.

The more we fill up with Scripture and the more we tune our hearts to seek Him earnestly through prayer and praise, the more His love pours out of us.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.

James 5:13 (NLT)

Naturally, how can we reflect our God if we don’t spend time to get to know Him deeply? The more we know Him, the better we can share about Him.

Now, I think these strategies can be applied by anyone in whatever they do, even if it isn’t writing, especially the last two. For me at least, those two are nice reminders in everything that I do.

Now, a question for you guys: If you’re a writer, how do you honor God in your writing? If you aren’t a writer, how do you honor God in whatever it is that you do?