I did something amazing and revolutionary a few weeks ago.
Realising that the whole family had somehow come under the mesmerising powers of the new big screen TV, I put it out into the back shed. The kids were mortified. Oh the shock. Oh the horror. What are we going to do now?
It was an interesting experiment and the range of activities and fun things that eventuated from not having a TV was a delight. Suddenly we were proactive in creating new ways to live. We actually talked with each other, read books, played games together, wrestled and enjoyed our lives… our real lives.
The devotion we had towards our TV was much akin to idol worship. We spent hours in front of it. It changed our psychology as we gazed on its tantilising flashing screen. We gathered around it and asked others to watch it with us. We loved it. Our lovely TV.
But TV has many brothers and sisters. PC games, iPhones, internet communities, apps, etc. etc. ad infinitum. They are so prevalent that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get away from their penetrating gaze and psychological hold. We “live, breathe and have our being” under their powerful influence. We love our media. Our lovely media.
But media, and all their delivery devices, is a man-made construction. It lies completely outside of the natural world, relying totally on the ideas that come from the people who create it.
When people create something, it is only natural to want to share that creation. My young children get great joy in sharing the creative projects they have poured their efforts into. That’s the thing about creating something. It comes from us. It is personal. It is an expression and extension of our passions, ideas and psyche.
From cars, to music, sport to fashion, houses to … books… we give our lives in time and toil to create. Then we stand back and marvel in what we have created and get great satisfaction from our achievements. We gather people to look at what we have created and relish in their praise of it. It reminds me of that famous scene in Exodus when the people, bored with waiting on God, decided to make an idol for themselves.
“They have made for themselves a golden calf and
have worshiped it and sacrificed to it”. (Exodus 32 v 8)
Christian writers (and writers in general) are facing a David and Goliath battle. For people to read (and I mean properly read i.e. beyond texting messages), they have to have a few things. Firstly, they have to have time to read. They also have to have a reason to read and a desire strong enough for them to do something incredible... turn away momentarily from the all-pervasive, exciting, tantalising media that dominates our world.
The media Goliath offers games and big screen TV’s with surround sound explosions, interactive social media type gaming communities, films, toys and paraphernalia, rides and theme parks.
Writers only have words… (and maybe a few illustrations).
And the media Goliath has another advantage. He has no God but himself and therefor flourishes in the secular world. The secular stronghold that governs our land of Australia, and keeps Christians “in check” thwarts gospel communications in various subtle ways. Any form of public religious communication must be squeezed through a tube of political correctness as to not offend.
As Christian writers, the challenge is immense and the stakes are high. The challenge is immense as we only have words and many don’t want to hear a Christian message in our secular world. The stakes are high because without the gospel, the world is doomed to be slaves of the gods of their own creation.
To be effective, Christian writers need to excel in their craft. Authors will need to invest more time, effort and skill into what they do, devoting themselves more fully to the projects they create so that what they create can become increasingly awesome. And therein is the great danger. As we invest more and more of ourselves into our projects, our Christian creation can become our idol. Our god.
Then David picked up his wooden staff. He went down to a stream and chose
five smooth stones. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag.
Then he took his sling in his hand and approached Goliath. (1 Samuel 17 v 40)
I think young David gives us a great illustrative example on how to approach our 21st Century media Goliath. He quietly chose a few stones from the stream, an image of baptism and reliance on God. He invested time in quietness and solitude to select what he needed in the battle. As David writes in Psalm 23 “He leads me beside the quiet waters”.
David valued the stones he chose. He knew he needed them for the battle and had developed skills in using them. However, David never worshipped those stones. For them to be effective he had to throw them away. In order for them to reach the target he had to release them and trust completely that God would use them. He loved God first and trusted the outcome to Him.
As Christian writers… emphasis on Christian here… time away from our craft is critical. Our devotion and meditations needs to be on Jesus and it is important (especially to writers) to not always keep these meditations of God tied to words.
Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making
many books there is no end, and much study
is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecclesiastes 12 v 12)
There are many ways to meditate on God that do not involve words, from gardening to church activities, sacraments and the many disciplines that train our soul to gaze in adoration and wonder on the beauty of our Lord. Time away from words and given to God, the “Living Word”, will illuminate our very being and restore our souls.
Good people bring good things out of the good they stored in their hearts.
But evil people bring evil things out of the evil they stored
in their hearts. People speak the things that are in their hearts.(Luke 6 v 45)
So, the Christian writer, armed only with words, approaches the impressive media Goliath in a secular world. Will those words have any impact at all? Will they reach those who are under Goliath’s control? Will the loving words of the gospel be communicated somehow through what is written?
Ultimately, the battle is the Lords and we trust the outcome to Him. Time spent with Jesus teaches us that we don’t approach the Goliath with words alone. We advance steadily with hearts and souls filled with the living all powerful loving creator God of the universe. We approach the Goliath with lives transformed. This is what it means to be a Christian Writer.
Brian Maunder is the author-illustrator of the
childrens picture book Polly's Little Kite.