I am not a big fan of Christian fiction, and frankly, I feel the same way about Christian movies. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll give them an E for effort. Yes, there was a time when E, not F, was the lowest level of the letter grading system. Authors and screen writers passionately want to share their faith with the world and strengthen the faith of those already professing, so they create works that are dripping with the Gospel. And I want to say for the record, THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT, NOTHING AT ALL. On so many levels, I get it, but I don’t have to like it.
When I look back to the moment I began a personal, intimate, life changing relationship with God, I remember so wanting my life to drip with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I wanted everyone to know Him. So I started to learn the language. I picked up a few Christian words and phrases stewardship, under the blood, answering the call, repent. Then I asked some older, more seasoned Christians what I needed to do now that I had joined them. They gave me the top five:
- wake up early to pray and read your Bible
- go to church whenever the doors are opened
- tithe on what you earn
- study the Scriptures
- Don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or listen to secular music (Honestly, I had to look up the word secular. I had no idea God had an opinion about music).
Now I was ready to drip with the Gospel. Everyone would know my story was a Christian one because I was following the top five behaviors and was becoming fluent in Christianese. I went home to visit my mom and sisters and tried my new language on them. My mom had the most confused look on her face when I opened my mouth, especially when I quoted Scripture whenever it seemed appropriate and when it wasn’t. And then they got a front row seat to my new behavior, complete with crack of dawn devotionals and free verse prayers which omitted the catholic sign of the cross. I honestly think my mom thought I had lost my mind or had joined a cult, or both.
My intentions were sincere – I wanted the world to know Him and by acting and speaking like one of His followers, they would want to know Him. I can tell you this, my behavior and language didn’t necessary draw many to the faith. I was preachy and to be honest, a little odd, at least to those who knew me before. My mom and sisters didn’t want to be like me in any possible way and thought I had jumped into the deep end of crazy. I am happy to report no humans were deeply hurt in the early years of making my story, and despite my best/worse efforts, my family has a loving and intimate relationship with God.
Not all new converts live out their faith like I did. Some beautifully allow God to transform them and focus on loving Him, allowing any behavior or speech changes to happen organically. And I am not here to bash Christians. I am one. But what I want to say is if you’re a believer in Jesus, then your life is a Christian story. And if you live in relationship with Him, He will do the transforming in your life and in the life of others. You don’t have to worry about making your story look Christian at all. If Christ lives in you, your life will drip with the Gospel – the Gospel of grace and truth. Your mouth doesn’t have to drip with the Gospel like a faucet that never shuts off.
Your life without all the props of language and religious looking behavior is a beautiful, authentic, redemptive love story and you don’t have to manage it. No two stories should look alike because each is an original. I’m glad because I am really into original, and I think God is too.