Writers have an enormous responsibility. Our task is incredibly serious. At Seriously Write, where I’m writing today, the very name of this gathering of Christian writers declares that we are aware of the seriousness of the task to which God has called us. At this point in our nation’s history, it’s crucial that we fulfill our calling.

Our society has reached a crux. We’ve departed from common decency, the willingness to listen to others, and the ability to keep the truly important matters ahead of the trivial. National discourse has fractured. Arguments rage on social media. On news programs, hosts and guests speak over one another. No one appears to be truly listening to other viewpoints. No one seeks reconciliation. We seem to have lost our empathy and our compassion.

In 1839 Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a fellow novelist and playwright, wrote these words: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” So, with our mighty keyboards, how can Christian writers inspire change?

First Listen. To be relevant, it’s imperative that we listen to what’s being said and recognize the heart attitudes and core convictions behind the words. Both the words and the emotions must be heard and acknowledged. We must be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

Seek out Biblical truth. We need to know what God says about the issues facing our nation. For instance, when dealing with racism we can all agree. In the New Testament we clearly see the eradication of any division based on race. Men and women, black and white and brown, are all equal human beings in Christ.

As another example, we can also agree to care for victims of catastrophe. We see the story of the Good Samaritan. We are clearly called upon to do whatever we can to help those in need. Do we know and are we applying what God instructed? In addition, do we also strive to find the Biblical truth and application on more complicated matters?

Write Biblical truth. Once we’ve determined the truth, we must write. To whom would God have us write? What has He laid on our hearts? Which areas does the Lord call us personally to address as writers? We cannot possibly solve all of these problems singlehandedly. That’s the job of the Prince of Peace. But each writer must determine what issues God would have him/her address. Where is He calling you, specifically? We will not all be led to the same issues.

Write with grace. In areas that are murky or disputable, it is essential that more than one perspective be acknowledged. Writers enable others to see both sides. The same is true during conflict. We must write with grace in the public forum, aware that another equally committed Christian writer may take an opposing view. Can we reason together? We can if our written words are always “full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Winsome words written with graciousness are powerful.

Weave biblical truth into our stories. The truths we weave into our fiction are even more powerful. Here we’re able to show all the emotion of more than one perspective, to show the end results of certain behaviors carried to their destructive ends, to demonstrate harm as well as good. Story and deep POV are our strongest tools. Constantly, we work on our craft in order to do this well to the glory of God.

Live our beliefs. We’re often on the outside edge, visionaries who are able to see more than one viewpoint, ones called to speak and to act outside the norm, truth tellers. We will often be lonely, like the Biblical prophets of old. Rely on Jesus, the One misunderstood and judged, crucified, dead, and risen. He will give us the strength and the wisdom to answer as we should.

Deeper thoughts: Vintage Saints and Sinners with Karen Wright Marsh

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