Psalm 66:1 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.” That statement is repeated many times throughout the scriptures. If I had a list of misapplied verses, it would probably be a pretty long list, and that one would have a prominent place on it. We usually interpret “make a joyful noise” to mean, “If you can’t sing, sing anyway.” After all, God gave you that voice, such as it is, and He knows your efforts are sincere, so it doesn’t really matter how it sounds.
That attitude might be all right between you and the Lord when you’re in the shower, but you can take the word of a lifelong non-singer; the other people who sit near you in church do notice and care about the quality of your singing.
Sad to say, that attitude of indifference to quality has crept into much of our Christian music, visual art, and more significantly for us, our Christian writing and speaking. Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with using the word Christian to describe my work. It’s too bad we categorize everything as either spiritual on the one hand, or secular on the other. Many Christians want nothing to do with the secular, and that’s a shame, because it limits the areas of our writing, and limits the ways in which the Lord can use us. I believe those divisions were contrived by men and are not from the Lord. He is interested in every area of our lives. Every single thing we do, say, and write can and should be pleasing to Him.
We Have a Creative God
We represent many backgrounds and schools of thought within the body of Christ. One thing we surely can agree about is that we have a creative God. Creativity is one of His main characteristics, and as creatures made in His image, it ought to be one of ours. Christians, of all people, should have an appreciation for the creative arts.
Most of us believe, or at least suspect, that we have a call from God to write and speak to groups. I don’t believe He calls any of us to do any part of our job in a mediocre fashion. He is a Holy God. He calls us to be perfect. He is concerned about and involved in our writing and speaking. He can enable us to do those things with excellence.
Why then are so many of our Christian magazines full of nonsense articles that have no real meaning for most of us? Why are so many Christian songs simply a rehash of worn-out phrases and rhyme schemes that have lost their freshness and meaning?
I’m disturbed by what I see in Christian biographies we give to our children. Sometimes a protagonist is presented as a Christian hero and role model, but the book contains misconceptions or even outright errors in reporting of documented facts. I’m not saying the same problem doesn’t exist in secular history, but if an author who makes no profession of faith does a poor job, it reflects on no one but himself. When a Christian does a sloppy job of research or shows an attitude of disregard for facts, it reflects on the Lord as well. He compromises his integrity. Not only does he lose respect as an historian, but also in spiritual matters. Who’s going to believe you know what you’re talking about in Biblical truth, if you can’t get anything else straight?
Too often when we attach the word Christian to something, the world has come to view that adjective as synonymous with “second rate.” It’s not necessary to debate how this happened or when it started, or why. We could discuss that for a month and not come to any conclusion, except to say that the problem exists.
Even if we aren’t interested in writing so-called Christian literature for a so-called Christian publisher, we need to be just as concerned about quality in our work. I believe our Christianity is discernible in everything we write. Besides, someone we have dealings with through our writing may find out we’re Christians. Or someday we may change our minds and decide to write something of a religious nature.
If we really are called to write or speak, each of us is going to be unique. Because of who you are, where you live, how you live, who you know, what you know, and what you’ve experienced, you can tell something no one else can.
I have intended these words as a challenge. I don’t want to be negative. If we really regard our writing and speaking as a gift form God, we’ll want to offer it back to Him as a sacrifice, even an act of worship. Quality shouldn’t be a problem. The God who calls us will enable us to write and speak with an excellence that is glorifying to Him.
About the Author:
Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading. You can visit her on her blog at ruths-real-life (dot)blogspot.com or her website at ruthoneil (dot)weebly.com