Well, we’ve reached the (approximate) midpoint. In a couple months the judges will have made their final decisions, and the contest will come to a close – but before that happens, I want to give you a chance to have your own questions about writing (and its connection to Christianity) answered. Are there any topics or questions you would like us to explore on this blog during the remaining half of the competition? Post them in the comment section, and we’ll be happy to explore these issues further.
So far, we’ve covered a few larger themes on this blog: writing as a vocation, dealing with writer’s block, writing Christian fiction, and so on. Today’s topic is similar. A friend and fellow PHC student, Alicia Constant, explores writing as a specifically spiritual calling. While we’ve touched on this before, Alicia draws out new facets to consider, and I definitely think you’ll enjoy them. :-)
Alicia’s article, “Writing as an Act of Worship,” is the second post in a series on her blog, A Beautiful Ordinary.
Writing as an Act of Worship
By Alicia Constant
What is writing? In its strictest sense, writing expresses meaning through symbols that represent language. Writing is communication and creation, expression of ideas in some form more permanent than the spoken word.
Good writing, on the other hand, is much more difficult to define. Critics have haggled over definitions and opinions for centuries, probably since the dawn of written language. And, aside from the mechanical quality of the writing, what about the ideas behind it? Must good writing, by necessity, reflect the good, the true, and the beautiful? Or can masterfully crafted writing that communicates the antitheses of God’s truth still be considered “good”?
Either way, the ability to create with language is a reflection of God’s image. Though He could have created the world some other way, He chose to use language: “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) God reveals Himself to us through His written word, which, aside from its perfect, divinely inspired nature, is also a work of intense literary beauty. As I was reading Job 38 this morning, I was struck by the powerful imagery of the language that God uses: the waters become “hard like stone” at His command, the seas “burst out from the womb” and are clothed with clouds and darkness. In his book God at Work, Dr. Gene Edward Veith describes our creative works as “an imitation of God’s work, a participation in God’s creation and His creativity…. these are what God does, and yet God gives them as tasks to human beings.” (God at Work, p. 62)
Our attempts to wield the written word are finite, and, of course, can never measure up to His perfection. We are created beings; thus, our ability to create is limited by both our lack of knowledge and our fallen nature. He has made everything, and without Him, nothing was made (John 1). Our most original creations are dim reflections of His artistry. Nevertheless, He gave us the ability to create for a purpose.
The main point I’m trying to communicate is this: Writing is a deeply spiritual calling. It’s not something to take lightly or treat selfishly. As writers, we should use the tool of language to create something beautiful.
Ultimately, our purpose returns to glorifying and worshiping the Divine Author, Jesus Christ. None of the glory we attain from our “works of literary excellence” should belong to us. Psalm 115:1 says, “Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.” What we write as Christians ultimately reflects on Christ. Our goal should be to know Him more, and as we grow in that knowledge, to help others see Him more clearly.
How can we accomplish this goal to the best of our ability? In other words, what makes writing good? I’ll leave you with this quote from C.S. Lewis: “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.”
Questions to consider:
a. How seriously do you take your calling as a writer? If you took it more seriously, what would that change, if anything?
b. What do you believe are the qualities of good writing?
c. How can you make your writing an act of worship to God?