The first time I truly encountered Jesus, it was through a story. Maybe you're thinking I was sitting cross legged on a colorful carpet hearing about Jesus through a story told by a vacation Bible school teacher with a children's Bible in her hands.
Or maybe you think I was quietly reading the Bible for the first time, asking someone why certain words were in red.
Actually, it was at a friend's youth group I had been invited to where I watched a black and white movie in another language with subtitles about a man who worked at a train station and his son. The movie didn't have Jesus in it, I don't think it even mentioned God.
But somehow, in this imperfect metaphor for the first time I truly longed to know God.
Years later, I went to college and found out in a funny conversation that only could have been brought about by God that my professor had written the short story that inspired that movie. The one that didn't mention God, but somehow told the entire gospel story at the same time.
As a Creative Writing major, this fascinated me. I longed to tell people about God without telling people about God, a lot like how Jesus often communicated in parables.
So, what does the Bible say about writing?
We Write to Remember
When I studied scripture engagement practices for BibleGateway, two stood out to me as a writer: journaling & hand copying scripture. Both emphasize the value of written words. Our entire faith is heavily impacted by words with the Bible being the living word of God.
God actually specifically asks people throughout scripture to write things down. There's a fascinating connection between our brains and written words. Writing things by hand actually boosts our memory–it's like God thought of this stuff before making us.
On BibleGateway the research on hand copying scripture says,
"It might be inspiring to remember that for thousands of years, God’s people had scribes whose job it was to pass on God’s Word by making written copies (we owe this long line of people a great spiritual debt). In the Old Testament, scribes such as Ezra were revered for their knowledge of Scripture that he developed through copying it. Throughout church history, monks transcribed the Bible, devoting their entire lives to studying and living out God’s Word. As you hand copy the Bible, you will mirror the practices of these scribes and monks and gain the same spiritual benefits that others have gained."
One of the biblical purposes for writing is to remember God. In Deuteronomy 17:18-20 a king is commanded to write his own copy of God's Word so "that he may learn to fear the Lord his God."
When we write something down, we are more likely to remember it and it even boosts our memory. God encourages people throughout the Bible to write, because when we write, we remember.
We Write to Inspire
We also are encouraged to write in order to inspire action. This is reflected throughout the Bible. We are meant to read and know God's Word, but it doesn't stop there. There is a call to action. We are meant to hear God's Word and respond to His Word and His Spirit.
Similarly, God's purpose for writing is to inspire action. The Lord provides His people with insights and revelation, and often his first instruction after speaking to His people is write this down.
Habakkuk 2:2 says, "Then the Lord answered me and said: 'Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it."
The Lord instructs for the vision and revelation He provided to be written down, and shares the "why" behind it. God wants anyone who reads it to respond. The same is true of the gospel.
The gospel message that made the most sense to me was one I found in a black and white film that was inspired by a short story that didn't even mention God. Crazy, right? Except, this is exactly how Jesus communicated during His time on earth. He used stories and analogies that made sense to people to inspire action.
I think this shows us a bit of God's heart for writing whether we're hand copying God's word, writing a poem or writing a story, we can inspire others to turn to God.
We Write to Reveal God's Beauty
God wasn't shy in showing off a bit when creating the Bible. The Bible has ten different literary forms and it is the world's most famous literary work. An article in the Washington Post said that compared to the Bible, "even the collected works of Shakespeare are demonstrably in the second tier."
God's love for us is extravagant, and He went ahead and put it on display by creating the Bible. Writing in any form is an expression of beauty and beauty is a revelation of God.
When I began my writing program at a Christian university, I often wondered if my writing needed to look or sound a certain way in order to be "Christian."
A more developed understanding allows us to see that there are no "Christian" labels needed to reveal God's beauty, whether that's in Christian music or Christian fiction.
In "Art & The Bible" Francis Schaeffer writes, "As a Christian we know why a work of art has value. Why? First, because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the Creator. The first sentence in the Bible is the declaration that the Creator created: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Whether your writing leads someone to remember God, inspires them to get to know Him, or simply gives Him honor by your reflection of His image, the Bible definitely says writing is good. God made it, now go enjoy it!