Application for Writers
So far, we’ve laid out some pretty tough standards for what is required of us as Christians. As Christian writers, this is what we have to live up to. Not in a legalistic sense, but out of love for Christ and because we revere Him.
Our responsibility as Christian writers is simple, but also impossible if we do it in our own strength.
But now after you have known God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?Galatians 4:9
We must seek the counsel of God as we write, otherwise we are acting as though we are slaves to sin again. Brothers and sisters, we have been saved! Let us rely on the grave and wisdom that has been given to us by God!
As writers, then, how do we apply what we have learned? It is, I believe, both simple and difficult. It does get easier the more you do it. So, flex your creative muscles, soften your heart to God’s direction, and let’s take a look.
Naturally not every character in your story has to be a Christian, but the ones that are need to be held to the same standards as real-life Christians. Those things we laid out for ourselves? Apply them to your characters. Now, having characters striving for holiness does not mean that hey are perfect. True followers of Christ struggle along the way. We sin, are convicted, and repent. We have fears that must be conquered in Christ. We have selfish lusts and desires that must be put to death every day. Our Christian characters should, too. If you need some practical inspiration on how to do this, I highly recommend Donald Whitney’s “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” (you can find it on the Resources page).
Villains. Side-characters. Even main characters can be unbelievers starting out. These characters present perfect opportunities to present the Gospel in regular encounters. They also provide interesting situations and choices for our Christian characters. These characters needn’t be nasty; in fact, they can have some religious or biblical background/understanding. Just make sure we know that the unbelieving character is a sinner destined for Hell unless God changes them in the story. Preferably through Christian characters.
Our narrative, dialogue, and especially word choices should be honoring to Christ and follow His character, precepts, and example. Sexual references should be limited, censored, and prayerfully considered. Will it make your reader uncomfortable and be looking over their shoulders to make sure no one else is reading it? Same goes for gore. And profanity. Christian characters should not use profanity or entertain even thoughts of sexual immorality. Swearing on the part of unbelievers can be simply referred to as “strings of profanity,” “cursed,” “swore,” or something similar. Be a writer that can be trusted.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of your should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.Colossians 3:8
There should be deep discussion and potential for deep discussion when Christian characters are present. No matter who they talk to, Christian characters should be willing to speak hard truths to believing and unbelieving characters. Even when those characters are uncomfortable or scared. In encounters with unbelieving characters, somewhere in the book there should be a Gospel conversation. This doesn’t have to result in the character getting saved, but believers should seek to share the Gospel and talk about the Gospel with believers and unbelievers.
I know there will be objections to what I’ve stated here. Before you comment to tell me your objections, consider that I did not write the Scriptures, nor did I invent Almighty God. Those two things are constant. In this particular installment, I’ve given you my conclusions concerning application. These conclusions are not law or to promote legalism, but to serve as guidelines and a jumping off point for your creativity.
In all, I hope you will remember the main concepts:
- Be like Christ
- Edify the brethren
- Bring Glory to Christ
- Share the Gospel
As we wind down in the next and final installment, we’ll have some writerly encouragement and tackle some of your questions and comments from this series. So make sure to get your questions in below if you haven’t already!