Recently, I participated in a six month Writer’s Cohort with GCD. (Which was fantastic!) The first assignment was to develop a personal mission statement for writing.
“…so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 ESV)
I met a church planter a few years back whose pitch for his Sunday gathering was: “Church minus all the religious crap.” His website explained, “Our church wants to make sure Jesus is the point. Jesus didn’t come to make us more religious or seemingly spiritual.” He told me he wanted church to feel normal to non-Christians; only then would they hear the message of Jesus.
But is the gospel all that normal? The story of the Bible is God’s plan to restore the world and save people from sin and sin’s judgment, through his Son’s death in our place. He was born of a virgin, unjustly executed, and raised three days later to eternal life through the power of the Holy Spirit (also God). Now, because of this Jesus, we can receive salvation through believing his message, turning from sin, and joining his kingdom movement. Oh, and there’s a talking snake. How can this message ever be normal? (And do I really want it to be?)
If the content of faith wasn’t off-putting enough for neighbors, our behavior is equally bizarre. Every week, we stand in a room shoulder-to-shoulder singing love songs to an invisible God, often in tears. We take bread and wine and call it flesh and blood. We lay hands on the sick and broken, asking God for help and healing. Sometimes (often?) that help never comes, but still we pray and plead and worship week after week.
Christians are crazy.
In San Francisco, where I live, people have no category for the weird stuff I think is true. I may seem normal at first, but my faith makes me crazy—possibly even dangerous. Here, flat-Earthers garner more respect than Christians.
This is not a new situation for believers. For much of history, God’s people have been viewed with suspicion and derision. Amazingly though, this has never been a liability to the Christian movement. On the contrary, our crazy and dangerous faith is an asset in a world that is also crazy and dangerous. Humans are wild creatures and wildly broken. Shouldn’t our origin, meaning, purpose, and end be just as wild? “Only the fool says in his heart there is no God.”
Faith is the firm belief in what we cannot see (Heb. 11:1). That makes language uniquely powerful to inspire faith because language makes visible the invisible. Words illuminate our existence. We cannot see God, but He has revealed Himself to us through His Word. On Sunday, I taste bread and wine, but words of faith transform them into Christ’s body. The right words believed and spoken can even make dead things come to life (Rom. 10:9).
The writing I most love explains reality without explaining it away. It brings together the visible and the invisible, the life in front of us with the life beyond. When I finish, I’m left with a renewed sense that “in Christ we move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) and “from him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” (Romans 11:36).
Good writing keeps the world wild.
I don’t want to write so that Christianity seems normal. The best way for me to seem normal is to remain quiet, but God commands us to speak. I write because I need to know my own craziness. If Jesus really is the Christ, if Satan is my enemy, if God really does hold my breath in his hand, then I need my eyes open. The world is wilder than I know. If I want my faith to last, if I want my neighbors to listen, if I want the church to thrive here, if I want my children to follow me in faith, the wildness of my Christianity needs to match the wildness of our world. Writing keeps me wild.
The Apostle John concluded his gospel with the purpose of his writing. He wrote so that his readers “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [they] may have life in his name” (John 20:31). He must have sounded so foolish to his Jewish and Greek readers! And yet to the those who were called, both Jew and Greek, Jesus became the very power and wisdom of God.
Why do I write? I write so that people (including myself) might more firmly believe the amazing truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, they may have life in his name.