The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ. (2Co 5:14 PHILLIPS)
There are Christian books and also Christian authors. These two can function together – a Christian author can write a Christian book. Or separately – a book is written by a Christian author. Neither one is right or wrong. A Christian writer can market their book AS Christian. Or choose to NOT place their book under the Christian genre, without guilt, if it doesn’t go there.
Following this same thought, some Christians, who read books, prefer books targeted for Christians, whereas others have an interest in a wider scope of literature, not all specifically Christian. There are also non-Christian readers, who will read a Christian book if it’s presented in the right way. In any of these cases, as in the two groups of writers, no one is wrong.
Christians have a tendency to put people in a box. We create a set of rules and try to cram everyone inside. But God has made us all unique. As in normal, everyday items, what one person likes, someone else dislikes. Nothing is wrong with our differences as long as they do not fall outside of godly principles. (Certain principles of God’s Word are unalterable, and by “rules,” I don’t speak of those.)
Applying this to Christians and books (two separate things), there are stories my friends have written that I didn’t care for. And NOT because I felt they fell outside of the Christian faith. Sometimes it’s subgenre or style of writing that doesn’t work for me. Whatever the cause, IT ISN’T MY JOB TO CORRECT THEM. I must walk in the love of Christ and leave the reasoning behind it to the writer’s heart.
Yet, some readers, who profess to be Christian, rail against anything they don’t care for. What makes them uncomfortable becomes “wrong” and, therefore, anyone who writes or reads it has “fallen into sin.” Don’t get me wrong; sin can creep into writing. A Christian who writes can take things too far. BUT it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction. Not mine. Not yours.
Ask yourself this: who will reach people for Christ if everyone writes only books for those inside of our faith? How will my light shine on anyone if I keep the candle hidden? (Mk 4:21) Being practical, to reach someone who isn’t of like faith, I can’t write the same way I’d write for Christians. Breaking that down further, I can’t write the same for all Christians either because what one person enjoys, someone else won’t.
Some books are NOT written for Christians. They are written BY Christians. And that is perfectly okay. I can choose to pick their books up and read them or set them aside. Whatever I do, though, however I respond to them, I do it with meekness, humility, and patience. I pray for them to use their talent to reach those in their circle of influence. (And by “reach,” I mean something as small as improving their day. They were entertained and forgot their troubles for a while. Not every storyline has to end with fiery salvation.)
Maybe someone who wouldn’t read a book by a Christian writer changes their opinion of Christian books or Christian people, in general, because of something that person published. Something I COULDN’T WRITE, whether because of topic, genre, interest, or culture.
Bottom line: the principles of love in the Bible work well as a guide to both writers and readers (and especially when writing reviews). (1Co 13:4-8) Sometimes, “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all,” is your best bet. Set the book down and move on with your day. Find something you like better and leave the results of that author’s work up to God. To answer negatively affects both you, the reader, and the writer, as well. Yes, there are times a writer needs to own up and admit their faults, but again, that circles back around to letting God work in them.
Because ultimately, God knows more about that author than we do and all the readers their words will reach. It could be we can learn from them the most by examining our attitude and becoming better, kinder, more loving people.
Suzanne D. Williams