If you want to make a million bucks as a Christian writer, you might want to script your own religion. However, you won’t find the Apostle Paul standing in line to buy a copy of your best-selling book.
One of the qualities I admire in the Apostle Paul was that his Christian faith owned him. It shows up in his writing. He wasn’t a writer who happened to be a Christian. The faith scripted him and moved his pen.
All too often I hear that Paul recreated the Christian faith. Certainly, Paul talks about his gospel—“my gospel.” In his swan song—2 Timothy, Paul writes, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:8-10; ESV). Paul owned the gospel, but he did not control it. Rather, it controlled him.
Paul owned the gospel in the sense that he took it to heart. The gospel was and is the good news of Jesus Christ who is the ground of faith as raised from the dead and the fulfillment of biblical hope as the descendant of David. Paul loved this good news. Because Paul found this good news worth living for, he believed it was worth dying for. If you and I who claim to be Christians don’t find our faith worth dying for, maybe we shouldn’t write about it until we do. Perhaps it is only then that we will have something worthy of the faith to write about in contemporary culture.
This weekend, I am speaking at the third annual Faith & Culture Writers Conference. I love the vision for the conference that my colleague Cornelia Seigneur and her team have. The conference is all about the integration of faith and writing in contemporary culture. My hope is that all of us who gather for the conference will guard against using the faith to make it as writers. Hopefully, like Paul, our aim is to be undone and rewritten by the object of our Christian faith—Jesus—so that we have something worthy of the faith to write about today.