The Word for Writers
FOCUS:Christian writing is about more than just telling a good story
by Theresa Harvard Johnson
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Let’s face it. Christian creative writing is about more than telling a good story, writing a shouting sermon, or selling articles and books. First and foremost, Christian writing is ministry - whether you write poetry, fiction, nonfiction, sermons, or instructional materials. And, like all functions in the body of Christ, the purpose of your writing gifts are rooted in two of the most significant scriptures in the Bible (Matthew 28:19, 20): “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.."
The gift of writing is indeed powerful. Unfortunately, the gift will never be greater than the commission set by Christ. Our gifts are simply vehicles that either plant or water good seeds in the lives of the sons and daughters of God. Our walk with Christ is not predicated on our gifts. It is, however, predicated on our obedience to the word and our sincerity in serving God. In Jesus’ own words he said to Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” (John 21:16)
To claim our place as Christians, we are saying that we believe and love the Lord. Why is this important? Well, it means that our motives for writing are centered completely on God, and that we accept Matthew 28:19, 20. I ask you, “What are your motives? Are you seeking fame, fortune, recognition, personal edification with your writing?” These underlying motives are not of God. In fact, they are self-serving. Don’t misunderstand, it is okay to expect and receive greatness from God, but good gifts come as a result of obedience. Firs, you must do his will.
Motives are critical. Your motive determines whether you will tell the truth, compromise the truth, or outright lie - and anything other than “telling the truth” is not of God. We cannot claim Christianity and then knowingly mislead God’s people. To every person whose eyes have been opened by the Spirit of the Lord and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, God has assigned people to them that only they can reach. In other words, someone else’s salvation is dependent on us and our Christian conduct.
There are three basic types of Christians, or in this case, “Christian” writers. There are those who are sold out for Christ, those who have one foot on a banana peel and one foot in the church parking lot, and those professing Christ but are truly not believers – they are indeed wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Christians: True Believers
True believers - whether they write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, instruction materials, sermons or whatever – choose to make Christianity a lifestyle. In other words, they make a conscious effort to live their everyday lives according to the word of God. When they write, their work always line up with scripture – thus glorifying God.
The word of the Lord reads, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever.” (1 Peter 4:10, 11)
Christian’s writers or true believers can hear the voice of the Lord. As a result of their ability to hear, they write what the spirit of the Lord unction’s them to write. To hear him, all you have to do is have an active prayer life, stay in your word, and be in a ministry where you can be taught under a Christian lifestyle practicing pastor. Having a teachable spirit makes all the difference. This is biblical. (But that’s another story.) The Lord will never tell you or lead you to write ANYTHING that glorifies sin or worldly principles, behaviors, and/or beliefs.
If the unadulterated word of God is in your heart and you have a goal of extending the gospel to others, it WILL come out in your writing. This is the only way God will be gloried.
Carnal and Compromising Christians
Carnal and compromising Christians are lukewarm. They serve the Lord sometimes and they serve Satan sometimes. Carnal Christians operate completely out of the flesh. They fail to have an understanding of the Spirit of the Lord working in their lives. They do not hear the voice of the Lord clearly, and often keep counsel with those who are not saved, and receive and give ungodly counsel.
Compromising Christians may have a true understanding of the Spirit of the Lord, and many can clearly hear from God. However, they have a strong desire to please man and to be accepted. So instead of doing what is biblical, they straddle the fence – whether by principle or action.
Carnal and compromising Christians run rampant in the world of writing. Their motives are self-centered, and it reflects in their work which rarely presents biblically sound doctrine, concepts, or principles. They often present you with a platter of appetizers that are pleasing to the eyes and ears, but despised by the Spirit of the Lord.
The word of the Lord says, “I know your deeds; that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelations 3;15, 16)
Carnal and compromising Christian writers can often be spotted in the writing arena by these characteristics:
1. They dedicate their books to God, but fail to uphold godly or biblically sound principles in their writings.
2. They purposely avoid the use of the words God, Jesus Christ, or the bible in hopes of appealing to a larger audience or not wanting to offend anyone.
3. They seldom quote scriptures.
4. They claim Christ, but fail to practice Christianity as lifestyle.
5. They are yoked with unbelievers.
To carnal and compromising Christians, the word says, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it seem evil to you to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."(Joshua 24:14, 15)
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
Christians have been sanctified, set apart, and made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Yet according the word of the Lord, there are those who stand among us who claim to be light, yet they are indeed darkness.
“These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Matthew 15:8)
The Bible often reminds us that we are in the midst of a spiritual war, and that wherever there is light darkness abounds. There are writers throughout the body who profess Christ, but in truth have no regard for the work of the Lord. Their motives are entirely demonic. For some writers, this statement may be hard to handle but it is the truth. There is a counterfeit for every good work the Lord does.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (II Corinthians 11:14, 15)
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)
Writers operating in this arena attempt to mix the light of God with darkness. Their work combines godly principles with mysticism, self discovery, inner healing, spiritual enlightenment, touching your inner self, etc. The emergence of these books, particularly over the past decade, have moved many book clubs and book stores to develop categories like “Religion and Spirituality” as opposed to “Christian Living” or “Christianity” as a separate entity.
Remember, the word of the Lord never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
To proclaim to be a Christian writer is to say, “I accept the great commission Jesus Christ presented the disciples in Matthew 28. I have an obligation to the write the truth, so that those whom God has ordained for me to reach may be reached. I realize I am planting a seed or providing nourishment, and later … God will give the increase.”
Christian writing must always line up with the word of God; exalt or glorify God; encourage, direct, or uplift others, warn, correct, and/or lead people to Christ.
Theresa Harvard Johnson
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This article really convicted me and rightly shifted my focus. I had been afraid to mention God, Jesus or the Bible in my writing, but this article showed me, through the analysis of Scripture, that this isn't the way to glorify God. Thanks so much!
You are absoloutely right Out of my 64 articles all, were given to me by the Holy Spirit, and all give GOD, the glory. For as you know the word says "The wisdom of men, is as foolishness to GOD, let him first become a fool so that he may gain wisdom" A person of GODS always puts GODS truth into his work, and none of his own, unless it glorifys the LORD. You have drawn some clear lines that define whether someone is motivated by self, or by GOD! May the LORD, bless you, for your truthfulness. Well done. In CHRIST Rev. Stephen Monday