Ah, don’t you love stereotypes? I don’t know about you, but I have found that, more often than not, when I tell someone new that I’m a writer, their first reaction goes something like, “You must be famous! A best-seller!” Oh if they only knew…
But today I’m not actually thinking about the poverty of aspiring authors, the hopeless clicks on KDP to see if maybe—hopefully—we sold one copy today…or this week. My thoughts are going more toward the emphasis on “Starving Christian.” If you notice, we are called “Christian Author,” not “Author Christian.” Christian comes first—yet how often do we put the emphasis on author and neglect Christian?
What do I mean? It is easy to pull hundreds of books off the shelves that help us become better authors. There are even books written by and for Christian authors. There are thousands of websites and articles. But in search of bettering ourselves as authors, one thing seems to be lacking: what about us as Christians? We will spend hours studying the writing craft and gleaning help from authors a step further than us, but how many hours do we spend studying God’s Word and learning from Christians who are more mature than us? Countless hours are spent researching historical accuracy—yet when was the last time we spent an hour studying to be sure our message was Biblically accurate?
Does it even matter?
The fiction world is starving. Amos 8:11 applies just as well today as when it was first written: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” Readers can easily get a fill of excitement and pleasure, but such “filling” is temporary. It satisfies the flesh, but souls are left yearning for substance. In the writing world, the only authors who can offer such satisfying meat are Christians. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, emphasis added)
As Christian authors, we have been given this great responsibility. Not the responsibility to prove we can do just as well at the craft as the secular world. Not to become famous or prestigious. No. We are responsible to share the Gospel! As believers, we have the opportunity to encourage and edify the body (Ephesians 4:11-16). How can we do this if we don’t even know what God’s Word says?
We cannot expect to write strong, Christian fiction that will feed the soul if we are weak Christians. This doesn’t mean that we have to have everything pulled together before sharing a truth from Scripture (the Lord knows that none of us would achieve this!), but we do need to be yearning to daily grow closer to Christ—to be pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14). The message of a Christian book will only be as strong as the message that the Christian author puts into it. That’s right, dear author: you are responsible for the message of your book (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit). I don’t know about you, but this thought almost frightens me, and it makes me examine myself. What does our spiritual walk look like?
If we view God as a harsh, unloving taskmaster, how will we write characters to see Him as a loving yet just God? If we are not convinced that God’s Word is the final authority, how can we write a message that others will embrace and believe? If we do not know how to follow God in our daily lives, how will we know how to follow God in our writing? Can a Sunday-only Christian write anything but Sunday-only Christian characters?
If our knowledge of Scripture is weak in daily living, it will be weak in fiction writing. If we are tossed about with the many doctrines and beliefs of today (Ephesians 4:14), our writing will not have a solid, Biblical message—and it could be used to lead people astray from the truth. The only way to remedy this is to make an effort in our daily lives to follow Christ, to dig into His Word, to study it for ourselves (and not just so that we can answer our characters’ questions).
Are you an author who happens to be a Christian, or a Christian who happens to be an author? Do you write Christian fiction because it seems expected of you? Or do you write Christian fiction because that is who you are? When was the last time you considered your walk as a Christian? And, finally…are there any changes you need to make in your life today?
If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few ideas for daily devotions:
- Read God’s Word (every day). Start with a New Testament book or Psalms/Proverbs if you’re not sure where to begin. Choose a set time in which to read (in the mornings when you first get up, in the evenings before bedtime).
- Keep a Scripture journal. As you read your Bible, copy the verses that stand out to you or that encourage or convict you.
- Memorize Scripture. Choose just one verse a day to work on memorizing. Copy it on a few index cards and bring it around with you to review throughout the day.
- Listen to Sermons. Find a Biblically-solid preacher to listen to (be careful; some men out there are not God’s servants—if you don’t know who to listen to, ask your pastor or an older, wiser Christian).
- Study a Verse. Choose a verse and look up the definitions of the words in it.
- Study a Topic. Search for one word and find all of the verses that cover that word.
Do you have any other ideas of how to begin strengthening your devotion time?
Let me leave you with a few verses to ponder in conclusion:
What kind of words are we writing?
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Are we ashamed of God in our writing?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Does our writing deny that we know God?
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
Do we love the applause of men better than the approval of God?
“For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)