(video above is Harvest Parker's Make Us Ready)
I will not apologize.
When I stood beside the keg, red cup filled with an intoxicating liquid, at the party doing the things my friends told me everyone did (and I believed them), I often pondered a different kind of social engagement where people were alert and discussed things that interested them with clear speech unhindered by the blurring contents of said cup. Sometimes I’d bring up my belief in God only to be met with wincing expressions. I wasn’t sure if the look was due to an uncomfortable topic of conversation or the other person’s need to retch into a porcelain throne.
Because of my unusual interest in The Almighty, I was sometimes considered religious, and even the goody-two-shoes of some groups.
But those were relative terms.
I had other friends in school who never seemed to be at these parties with red cups and big silver drink dispenser systems. I often wondered if they were at ones in another neighborhood.
They were. It was called Young Life.
And they hadn't invited me. In fact I didn't even know these friends were Christian at all!
When I found out about these social events where people talked about God (like I wanted to do), I asked to come. I was told I wouldn’t like it because my Catholic beliefs, at the time, prompted me to pray to saints. Before this encounter, I hadn’t even known my beliefs differed from theirs. Despite having gone to a Catholic school, I hadn't known much about this God at all.
Many, many years, floundering beliefs, and major mistakes later, I discovered a number of my high school friends were Born-Again Christians. They are now much more open about it on Facebook than they were in real life high school. They’d been Christians all along, and never told me.
I’m kinda ticked.
I wasted a lot of years feeling out of place in social situations where I knew I didn't belong, and no one told me there was a better way. They were absolutely silent on the matter.
Which is why I won’t be silent now!
I am what I am. I am a Christian. I live, breathe, and work as a Christian.
I write books about Christians who say Christian things and do Christian deeds, except when they are messing up and stuff, but yeah … They are SEEKING to live according to the Bible. They are encouraging their Christian friends to do the same, and hoping their non-Christian friends will ask to know more--and sometimes they do (just like in real life). These Christians will even quote scripture on occasion (I know, yikes!!! But hey, there’s good stuff in there!).
Hopefully, they are also modeling a life genuinely lived, rich in relationships built on Biblical principles, which nurture friendships that grow people of faith. All this, while continually battling against their own particular temptations and weaknesses. They are works in progress, struggling to aim a sometimes directionless life toward the One True God.
In other words, I write about life as a--gasp!--Christian.
I am not trying to preach. This is my world today. I’m sorry if it offends, but Jesus warned that would be the case.
My books are written for the Christian market, targeted to that readership, and promoted on Christian sites as Christian Fiction. My ad blurbs clearly state what they are. There is no subtle soft sell. No bait and switch. If the reader didn't know what she was getting, that is not because I tried to deceive anyone.
No one need be offended at what they might perceive as preaching. These are Christians encouraging Christians as the Christians in my world do--thank you Jesus!--and on occasion, when they meet a non-believer who is suffering and needs some Living Water, they do not withhold the tap for fear the fount of an abundant life costs too much. They are generous with the drink.
If only someone had held out that cup to me!! I might have dropped the red plastic one that made me sick.
Yes, sometimes conversations about God in some fiction can come off as trite. But that’s usually when the non-believing hearer “gets it” on the first go round without any God-ordained life experience to back it up. It’s just not realistic so rings a bit syrupy. On the other hand, it is also unrealistic to portray faith-filled, Bible-believing Christians, who do not pray about difficult situations (which are usually plentiful in novels), consider biblical principals, and even receive biblical advice from friends, family, and pastors. That’s just the way a Bible-believer works …
My sister, when a relatively new Christian, had a salvation story every week. These are not fiction at all. Just God working through a hairdresser who has been on fire for His glory! It’s been exciting to see. And sometimes she evangelized in bars! I kid you not. She’s been most effective there!
I have writer friends who write more general market stuff that just happens to have Christians in it. I don't pick on them for this (as others might) nor chastise them because they do not write for The Kingdom or use it as a Gospel-teaching opportunity. God calls each of us differently: to speak to the lost, to encourage the found, or even to lighten the heaviness of the reader’s day with a little fun (which can be very important in stressful times!). He does not call any of us exactly the same. He will use us as differently as there are disparate people in the world, born to many nations, in various types of families with divergent beliefs and contrasting resources from which to learn, with distinct personalities, and diverse Interests.
(Did I use enough synonyms for “different?” That’s because people are DIFFERENT!)
If He’s called one writer to preach the Gospel and another to lighten a load, who are we to tell them they are doing it wrong? Different parts doing complementary tasks is how the Body of Christ was designed to function--by The Creator, no less!
I’m so tired of people saying we must all do it the same way!!!
So I write what I see in my Christian world. Its real and oftentimes taken straight from my life. Not preaching. Just telling the reader stories that may illuminate some aspect of the character of God and how He works through His creations. Just as Jesus did in his parables so many years ago.
I will not apologize for that.
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