When I awakened this morning, I discovered that I was writing this blog post in my head as I came to consciousness. I’m sure it was brilliant in that place between sleep and awake while what I actually write will fall short of that. But I’m going to try anyway.
In the 1970s, when I came under the Lordship of Jesus the Messiah, there was almost no Christian fiction. The local Christian bookstore’s fiction section was two shelves high and only two to three titles wide and represented only two or three authors. That was it.
There was a common train of thought in the church back then that fiction wasn’t good for a believer because it wasn’t true. Another common thought was, if you had a book open, it needed to be the Bible and only the Bible.
Friends, from the moment I was born again, I’ve had a passion for reading and studying the written word of God. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover many, many times during my Christian walk, and when not reading from front to back, I’ve spent time meditating on and studying individual books of the Bible. So don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Reading the Bible is important. The Bible is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is food for the soul.
But disdaining fiction is a sad thing. Good fiction is true because it reflects us and the world around us.
There is a reason Jesus taught in parables. We (mankind) respond to story. We learn better when we are taught through story. We are wired that way. God made us that way. We discover truths about ourselves through the story of the prodigal son, for instance. And not just the version that Jesus told. Many novels have been written to illustrate that biblical story. I’ve written one, Return to Me.
Through many centuries, Christians “owned” the arts. The great writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, et al, believed in the message of Christ and they shared that message through the art they created. But somewhere along the way, followers of Jesus relinquished much of the arts to the world. We only need to look at so much of what comes out of Hollywood to know that’s true.
One of the reasons I am such a fan of The Chosen is because the creators know the power of a story told well. The show takes us into the lives of the disciples. The episodes let us see those followers of Jesus as people we can relate to. And through those characters, we catch glimpses of ourselves and God can teach us in those moments.
I’ve heard Dallas Jenkins, the creator and director, say something like, nothing blesses him more than hearing people are reading their Bibles more because of watching The Chosen. That’s something I’ve said about my own books. Yes, I want to entertain my readers, but I hope my stories also make readers hungry to know Christ better and better and therefore turn to Scripture to do so.
Sometimes I get angry at the culture we live in. I get angry over what has been taught to my grandchildren in public schools and through TV and movies and books, again a reflection of the culture. And that twisted culture has infected everything.
But art doesn’t just reflect the culture. Art can and does influence the culture. It can lead the culture. Christians should be encouraged to pursue the arts. To write the truth. To act the truth. To paint the truth. To sing the truth. And all of us should support the efforts of those Christian artists who are doing just that.
I can’t help thinking of Lauren Daigle’s beautiful song, You Say, and how often I heard it on dance shows and talent shows a couple of seasons ago. Sure, I realize that many didn’t understand that it was God telling the listener that she (or he) is enough. Many heard it as a love song. And it is a love song. Just a very different kind of love song. The kind that God sings over His children. And God touched hearts through it.
Believers, let’s impact our very troubled world with the truth of Christ through our art. Let’s give back truth to the world, one artistic endeavor at a time.