Dear Christian Writer,
You have a responsibility to proclaim the truth. Some people would view this responsibility as a restriction, but I believe quite the contrary – it’s a freedom. John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” and John 8:36 continues with, “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” In Christ we have been given glorious freedom! When we accept that freedom, the truth of Christ flows through us. Writers are not the only ones who are responsible to proclaim the truth. As a freed people, we all have a responsibility to share the truth that set us free, and in our vocation as writers, that truth sharing will manifest itself in our writing.
You may be thinking, this is all very good and theological, but how does proclaiming the truth practically play out in my writing? I think this is where we Christian writers run into trouble. We assume speaking the truth means writing “Christian” books, and essays, and blog posts, and song lyrics. This assumption, however, begs the question, what makes a writing piece fall into the “Christian” category? Is it how many times a writer mentions God in their work? Does it mean their characters must be Christians? Can their work only be published by a Christian publishing company? All of these constraints and rigid definitions do not sound like the freedom of Christ to me. They sound more like legalism than truth. How do these rules line up with Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free”?
I think Christians find too much enjoyment in separating the sacred and the secular. Our society likes to put everything into boxes and categories, but Jesus does not fit in a box! To take this even further, I think a sacred versus secular view of the world is unbiblical. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” It does not say, “The earth is the Lord’s, but some things belong to him more than others.” This idea of separating sacred and secular is flawed, because God is in the business of redeeming all things.
I think a better way to approach the issue of Christian writing is to ask, does this writing proclaim truth? Truth comes from a wide variety of sources. Christians are not the only ones with the ability to proclaim truth. In my nineteen years on this earth I have discovered truth in many diverse arenas. For example, The Lord of the Rings trilogy would not fit under the traditional “sacred” label. The books and movies are about an imaginary world full of imaginary creatures, and God is never explicitly mentioned in the trilogy. I cannot, however, shake the truth of Sam’s quote, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.” This quote is as true as any statement I have heard in a “sacred” story. Another example is a song by Ingrid Michaelson that says, “Everybody, everybody wants to love, everybody, everybody wants to be loved.” I know this to be true. We were created to love and be loved. Although Ingrid Michaelson has never officially declared that she is a Christian, and I cannot speak to what she believes in her heart, the lyrics in her song ring true. Similarly, the song “The More We Live – Let Go” by Yes has a line that says, “The more we live, the more we learn, the more we know,” and another that says, “The more we give, the more we love, the more we grow.” That is true! The fact that Yes identifies themselves as a rock band does not change the fact that their lyrics proclaim truth.
I believe truth can be found anywhere. God loves to seep into every aspect of our lives. This is why it is so damaging to try to divide the sacred and the secular. If we label something secular, we cease to look for the truth it contains. The question that remains is how do you know if something is true? I have three thoughts on how to answer this question.
First, use scripture to check if something is true, because the Bible is the ultimate source of truth. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Charles Spurgeon said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” While many other sources contain truth, the Bible is the only source that can confirm truth.
Second, God has given us divine guidance in the form of his Holy Spirit. John 16:13 says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” I truly believe that if you choose to listen, the Holy Spirit will lead you to the truth.
Third, finding truth in this crazy world is an act of faith. If something lines up with scripture, and resonates in your Spirit, you simply have to take a leap of faith and trust that God is speaking truth. A leap of faith is called what it is for a reason; your feet will have to leave the ground. However, if you allow God to lead you in your quest to discover what is true, I am confident He will show you His truths.
The process we use to determine what is true should translate to our writing. Does your writing resonate in your Spirit? Does it line up with scripture? If it does, go ahead and leap. Write what is revealed to you, for the truth must be told.
Now, I know when I ask if something resonates with your Spirit, many of you understand what I am talking about, but when I ask if something lines up with scripture, you are slightly confused on how to do that. Let us be honest here, scripture can be very difficult to understand, so let me clarify what I mean. When I ask if it lines up with scripture, I am asking if it lines up with who God says He is, and who God says we are, not who we have constructed God and ourselves to be.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking this sounds like a lot of hard work, and I am going to have to agree with you. The only way to know for sure who God actually is and who we actually are is to spend a significant amount of time reading scripture. This takes effort and energy, but I never promised proclaiming truth would be easy.
To bring this letter full circle, I want to take you back to where we started. You have a responsibility to proclaim the truth, but with that responsibility comes glorious freedom. So Christian Writer, write songs, and poems, and stories, and letters, and proposals, and reports. Make your writing silly, or serious, informative, or imaginative. Use words to express yourself. Be passionate. How and what and when and where you write is up to you, but the most important thing you can do is, “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”