The Word for Writers
FOCUS: We Must Hold Onto Who We Are As Christians When Writing Creatively
by Theresa Harvard Johnson
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The ministry of Christian creative writing has so much power in the world. Just think! We are the “unspoken” mouth pieces of God, dedicating our lives to conveying the revelations he presents to us creatively through pen and paper – or in this age, through keyboard and monitor! I’ve heard many people say, “Anyone with a good hook can write a story.” And yes, to some degree this is true; however, not everyone can accurately and righteously convey the creative words of the Lord. That - my brothers and sisters – is something that only the Holy Spirit can do through us. So when we say we write for the Lord, it means we are writing “the words of God” – period. It means we are leaving ourselves behind, and writing prophetically, those words that he speaks through us.
Recently, a brother in Christ asked me this question: “How do I handle the challenge of wanting to be true to the language of unbelievers in my fiction writing (based on real situations, including profanity) while my conscience prevents me from writing fiction at all?”
The answer is quite simple really. We must learn to let go of our own agendas (writing agendas) and allow God to work through us according to HIS will – not ours. God knows who must receive the writing he has placed in our spirit, and he already knows how those who receive it will respond. Consider for a minute Paul of Tarsus, the Jesus-hater and Christian-killer from the New Testament. His life was transformed on the road to Damascus as Jesus spoke to him from the heavens. Then later, a stranger – who simply trusted the word of the Lord that came to him – went to Paul of Tarsus and delivered the words of the Lord. God had already prepared the way. Paul is now known throughout the Bible as one of the greatest Apostles who ever lived, and all the stranger had to do was walk in obedience to God for this promise to be fulfilled.
As far as conscience is concerned, this is pulling or the leading of the spirit of the Lord. When we have a personal relationship with him, and are operating out of his will in our gifting – particularly writing – he will not let us go fourth until clarity is received or a new level of understanding in his purpose for the gift is reached. Once this mountain has been removed, then the words he places inside will indeed come forth according to his will.
The Answer Explained
First, we must ask ourselves this question: Am I writing because God has placed a word in my heart to deliver to people assigned to my ministry, or am I writing to fulfill a personal goal or to reach the people I believe I need to impact? On God’s plane of existence we simply do what he asks us to do, and we leave the outcome up to him.
We are obligated to be true to two people: ourselves and God. As Christians, this truth also comes with a serious level of accountability. In Luke 6:41-42 the Bible says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.”
Yes, there are many interpretations of this scripture. Its purpose here, however, is to support this single point: God wants us to be true to ourselves first – no matter the situation or circumstance. House cleaning starts at home, not in the apartment across the street. We are either for God 100 percent or against him. As a believer, it is never okay to make efforts to please the world. Let me say that again, it is never okay to make efforts to please the world. We do not have to resort to world tactics to draw unbelievers to Christ.
If Jesus didn’t do it, neither will I! Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
We are only obligated to remain true to the word of God, the spirit of the Lord, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. So when it comes to “remaining” true to the language of unbelievers – we cannot do that as Christian creative writers because it is not reflective of the truth.
John 4:23-24 reads, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Believe it or not, Christian fiction is biblical. Fiction, in terms of definition, is something invented by the imagination or feigned; specifically, it refers to an invented story. Biblically speaking, we can say that Christian fiction is a story created to teach a biblical lesson or to explain a biblical truth. There are many such stories throughout the bible, but particularly in the gospels of the New Testament. Jesus often spoke to his disciples in parables or short fiction stories. There is no need to go into detail here ... just read the gospels on your own.
On another note, many “real situations” are captured in the bible through writing. The integrity of the stories was upheld, without compromising the word of God. Consider for a minute stories concerning the life and lineage of King David. Scripture depicts him as a womanizer, an adulterer, and a murderer. His son Amnon raped his daughter Tamar. His son Absalom murdered his brother Amnon for raping his sister Tamar. Later, Absalom turned on his father and tried to over throw his kingdom which ultimately resulted in Absalom’s death. Though it is biblical truth it makes for a very good story – even for someone in the world.
The bible is chock-full of stories like these! There is also a basis for Christian romance in the Bible, and I am not just writing about the Song of Solomon.
The difference between what the world is writing creatively, and what God is inspiring creatively through modern day scribes – is worlds apart. All of our work lead directly back to salvation, sanctification, deliverance, love, and righteous living through the word of God. With that said, I leave you with this:
Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
When I was my father's son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of
He also taught me, and said to me:
"Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the
words of my mouth.
Read other columns at http://www.voicesofchrist.org/voc_focus.html
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