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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why Do I Write What I Write?

As soon as people find out that I'm a writer, one of the first questions they ask is, "What do you write?" Over the years, I've learned to be a bit cautious with my answer, depending on the person with whom I am talking. Within the Christian community, there are those who hold to the idea that a Christian should only read the Bible and those non-fiction books that aid a Christian to grow in their walk with God. Once, when I told a man in our former church that I write Christian fiction, he immediately snorted and declared that there is no such thing. His reasoning was that "Fiction is a made up story, which means it's a lie. Therefore, you cannot attach the word 'Christian' to it, because Christianity is not a lie." (Yes, he actually said that to me.)

I tried, to no avail, to explain to him that Christian writers strive to take back what the world stole and reclaim it for God. The world took romance--the pure love between a man and woman resulting in a union with God at the center--and turned it into smut. Our stories depict realistic characters who struggle with real problems and real weaknesses, but cry out to God for their strength and healing, then determine to live for God with His help. Isn't this a description of our lives? Unless we have somehow attained sinless perfection on this earth, (that's never gonna happen!!) we live the same imperfect lives as the characters we write about, and we can put ourselves in the picture, learning a biblical truth along with the fictional characters.

It might shock this man to realize that the Inventor of romantic love was God. Ever read The Song Of Solomon? Or the Book of Hosea? God created romantic love between and man and a woman, but He intended that love to be untainted. The world sullied the idea of romance into something dirty. Writers of Christian fiction create stories that show romance the way God intended it.

I think we can all agree that Jesus is the example we are to follow. Well, with that in mind, Christian fiction writers are following His example. Throughout the gospels, Jesus spoke and taught in parables: STORIES. Because most of the time He wasn't speaking to theologians, He was speaking to normal, everyday folks--farmers, fishermen, shepherds, laborers, families--people who would relate better to a story than they would to a deep, theological sermon. Jesus met the people where they were, in their everyday lives, and drew their attention to the kingdom of God by telling them a story. At least thirty-nine parables of Jesus are documented in the gospel accounts. If Jesus reached people through story-telling, shouldn't we as writers in the 21st century do the same?

How many times have we picked up a book and become so involved with a character, that we felt what they felt, and hurt when they hurt? We can identify with their predjudices and weaknesses because we struggle with the same issues, whether or not we admit it to anyone, even ourselves. How many times have we felt a twinge of conviction or wiped away a tear because we have walked in the same footsteps as the character about whom we are reading? That is the same way Jesus touched the hearts of the people to whom He ministered.

That fellow from our former church? I doubt he will ever see past his own narrow-mindedness, and that's sad. He likely doesn't realize he is discounting one of the most effective tools Jesus Himself used. I pray that as I write I will stay in lock-step with God and let Him direct my fingers on the keyboard. My goal is to paint vivid story-pictures to draw a reader into the very shoes of my characters, and in doing so, grasp a better understanding of becoming a vessel fit for the Father's use.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.


Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I will never forget the sting of a man telling me "Christian fiction is an oxymoron." At the time, I was so taken aback I couldn't respond. But when I encounter that attitude today, I'm ready with a quiet rejoinder: "But didn't Jesus use stories to share biblical truths with His listeners?" I don't argue--no sense in that--but try to point out that there is a place for Christian fiction and that it can touch lives. I have reader email to prove it. :o)

Dorothy Adamek said...

My mum will still chat to me about Marty from Jeanette Oke's Love Comes Softly, as if Marty were a mutual friend who lives around the corner. She has read those books so many times we joke she can quote from them as well as she does Scripture!! If anyone else heard us they might think we were talking about a member of our family. Good characters who share poignant lesson have a habit of sticking around like that:)

David A. Bedford said...

You are very right. My parents were missionaries for 40 years in Argentina, where I grew up. I learned to love fiction because my Mum read lots of it to us. I have just published a novel that on the surface is very simple, but it overflows with love without preaching and shows how one can be light to the world as the Lord wants us to be. If you would like to learn about, just click on my name and follow the link to my web site. Thanks!