Saturday, July 24, 2004

Breathing Room

This is a continuation of my previous post regarding what makes a novel "Christian." I'm aware of plenty other discussions taking place on this topic, so why don't I just chime in on one of those? I guess I like to just explore things for myself first sometimes, and figure out what I really think about things. Not that it matters one teensy bit what I think - in the end, what matters is what Christ thinks.
I've come to the conclusion that the primary Biblical mandate relating to this would be Paul's exhortation to do all we do to the glory of God. At least for me, that must be my ultimate criteria. In the end, does the book, story, article, movie or song glorify God? Does it exalt Him and lift Him up? Does it point to Him? I like to think of a shimmering lake reflecting the sky on its surface. The reflection is merely a picture, but that picture is all one can see when they look at that lake.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't believe everything I write needs to have an overtly Christian message. I can't picture the apostle Paul designing tents with the fish symbol all over them!  Tentmaking was his livelihood, not his ministry.  Yet I'm confident that in his dealings with other tentmakers and customers, he strove to bring glory to God.  I don't think that fiction or the arts, while they have their place, are the primary means God intended to reach the world.  Nothing can take the place of preaching the gospel and Christians sharing their faith with others. What's important in my writing is that nothing detracts from God's message.
So why the title "Breathing Room"?  I guess I just believe, as Christians, we need to allow for differences to exist.  Each person is at a different point in his relationship with God.  It is not for me to judge another's work or standards.  I am accountable to God for my life alone.  I must answer to Him for what I read and also what I write.  I can't answer for anyone else though.  This understanding motivates me to continually be in God's word and allow it to be the standard of measure for anything I write.  It also helps me to read other authors with grace, realizing that they are people just like me, and we're all at different places in our walk with God.

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