My call is to write about living Christian in a secular world. That puts me on a sharp edge. The cultural conflict between Christian thinkers and secular thinkers hones a fine edge. Anyone trying to walk on a knife edge wants to find a broad, flat, comfortable place to walk and get away from the brink.
An easy option would be to delve into secular issues, picking them apart and arguing with them, because slicing and dicing the ideas of people who disagree with me is easier than serving Christ. Secular thinking is mistakenly believed by some to be more elegant and sophisticated than religious thinking, which makes it all the more delightful to create an intellectual kabob that skewers esteemed philosophies.
It would, likewise, be easy to advocate for Christian dominance in the culture, because I believe in Christian teaching. I have learned that the Bible reveals the way people are supposed to live, and it would be easier to advocate for the Bible as the guide than to advocate individually for the legal principles that grow out of the Bible’s moral and ethical teachings. For most of US history, Christian thinking has been dominant, but the culture of the US today is much less cohesive than it was in 1776.
My call is to help faithful believers see the issues clearly and to encourage them to seek the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit to know how to navigate in a secular culture.
There are a lot of touchy issues in this realm. To write in this realm is to stand on a virtual knife blade. It would be very easy to shred myself in the process of writing, a prospect that makes me feel afraid sometimes. I’m still a sinful person, and people on the other side can always find a weak spot.
It would be equally easy to shred the opposition. I am as good at snarky insults, piercing word plays and satirical parodies as anybody. I am capable of ferocious wit, and I have paid the price for it in broken friendships.
My call, however, is not to decimate the people who disagree with me. There are people who do feel called to biting satire, and I leave it to them. I, on the other hand, feel called to a redemptive work. That means that I want to lift up and encourage Christians confronted with belligerent secularism, and I actually hope to be used of God to win over belligerent secularists.
The challenge is to use the knife edge where I stand as a scalpel to perform healing surgery rather than as a switchblade that lacerates an opponent.
This knife edge sends me into some very edgy topics. I submitted an op-ed with my views on the LGBT political agenda to a news service, and it was rejected as offensive. I commented on a hot topic on Facebook only to have a Christian friend tell me I was too sure I was right. On the other hand, some people read my work and are strengthened in their faith. Some people who call themselves secularists engage in conversations that don’t necessarily come to a conclusion so much as they open the door to new thinking.
Writing on the edge is scary sometimes. Yet I notice that during the past few months, as my understanding of my calling has become clearer, my following has increased. I take that as confirmation that some people are served by my commitment to my calling. My numbers won’t impress anyone but me. For two years I had three followers. Now I have more, and new ones come aboard every week. I have stopped thinking of it as marketing; I think of it as discipleship. Maybe mentoring. I am learning a lot more than I am teaching, the real blessing for writers and teachers. I pray that sharing what I learn will be a blessing to many and perhaps light the path for a few Christians and a few secularists. If I don’t fall off this knife edge where I write, I may actually become a force for healing someday.
QUESTION: Have you come to a place where you’ve grown comfortable with your writing voice? Do you feel comfortable writing about culture conflict? Why or why not?
* Image credit: United Nations Photo (Creative Commons)