Walk the talk, and dump the thump.
I'm going to tell you something, and I hope you get my point. If not, feel free to ask a question or two...
I don't, and I won't, do any preaching in my writing.
Yes, I am a Christian writer. But I am not a preacher, I don't write sermons, and I refuse to have my characters spontaneously break into a sermon while repairing fences or making a meal.
The thing is, if/when I'm published by a Christian publishing company, it will go without saying that the book has Biblical values.
So, umm, there we go. No need to line up the basic tenets of Christianity at the end of each chapter.
Yes, I've seen that. Yes, it totally pulled me out of the story.
I read one book in which the main character taught hours each day to the curious, and possessed such an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible that the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing went out the window. I mean, the character was very young, less than 20 years old, and yet taught like she'd been at seminary since ten years before she was born.
Every chapter had some deep concept covered and by the end of the book, I just about hurled. It was SO over the top.
When reading faith-based fiction, the underlying message is expected to be one of God leading the characters through all kinds of trials, out of some kind of difficult scenario, and toward spiritual triumph.
What the underlying message is NOT supposed to be, is a whack to the head for every non-Christian character in order to show that the bad guys all get killed off or injured because they failed to grasp the salvation offered to them by the stunningly beautiful heroine and her manly handsome, and all-around fabulous hero.
Real life needs to be evident in fiction.
Part of real life is being aware of, and admitting, that non-Christians aren't bad people. And believe it or not, not all those who profess to be Christians are people to whom I would give the time of day. It's a very sad fact, but we all know it to be true.
The world grows more judgmental by the hour.
People who say they represent Jesus need to be known by how they show His love, not their judgment.
Yes, that is very hard for some people to see, let alone accept. But that is the reality faced by the culture we live in.
The world is a painful place full of broken hearts and hopeless souls.
How often did Jesus go to those who had it all together and just wanted to be seen with Him?
How often did He stop, pick a spot, speak to the hundreds and thousands who followed Him day and night?
Many, many times.
And sometimes? He brought the whole crowd some lunch.
Stories are meant to take someone out of where they are and take them to a far-off place. To take them through the battles of another and give hope and courage, perhaps even some humour. They are not meant to hit the reader over the head with what he or she is doing wrong.
I will go hard at my readers with heartache, with laughter, with difficulties, with joy, with triumph, with the love of each other and of God.
I will pour over them the love of a culture and a people for whom I have intense appreciation and respect.
But I can not, should not, and will not thump my readers over the head with deep theological concepts and ill-timed and complex doses of Biblical doctrine that do nothing but haul them out of the story, and jar their senses enough that they slam the book shut and throw it away.
Because when I get hit with something?
I never want to see it again.