Welcome to Part 4 of the Writing by Faith series for Christian authors! If you’re new to Authoring Arrowheads, be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss future series posts!
If you haven’t yet read previous installments of the Writing by Faith series, you can do so here.
“Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”-2 Corinthians 6:3-10, KJV
By stepping out into the public eyes as Christian authors, we are choosing to follow God’s purpose for us by ministering to readers through our books. However, like the verses above entail, ministry can include many forms of backlash, just because we choose to go against the world’s status quo and write books that glorify God. In this section of the Writing by Faith series, we will identify how Christian authors will inevitably receive negative feedback from readers of all backgrounds based on the tough subjects their books address.
The World Will Hate You Because of Him
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”-John 15:19, KJV
Jesus plainly states in the verse above that, because Christians are set apart and do not delight in the wickedness of secular sins, that the world will hate us for it. Not because of anything we’ve done necessarily; just our faith in Christ. Likewise, it is inevitable for authors of Christian books to receive negative feedback from non-Christians on their book’s faith content.
But, We Need to Minister Anyway
We’ve established early in the Writing by Faith series that writing is a God-given gift that He’s allowing us to have to minister to others. If we answer that call to ministry, it doesn’t just mean that we should write Christian fiction solely for the Christian audience’s benefit. Actually, we should fully expect to minister, using the word’s definition to its fullest extent, and write the Truth of God in a way that can potentially reach Christians and non-Christians alike. If the purpose of ministry is to promote the word of God, and non-Christians need to hear His Truths the most, reaching them should become our main goal for audience purposes. But, it’s not easy.
Because we are writing for God’s glory, those who do not know Him, and those who claim to hate Him, can and will take those negative feelings toward God out on the books we write. The biggest complaint I’ve noticed throughout reviews on a variety of Christian books is that the books are “too preachy”. Granted, I will admit that there are many Christian books on the shelves (mostly fiction) that force God into the story in every nook and cranny, and it doesn’t appear natural from a storytelling standpoint. However, many Christian books I’ve read that have sparsely, yet naturally weaved biblical truths into the story have also been labeled as “overly preachy” by non-Christians, just because they dislike the fact that the story honors and mentions God. How should we as Christian authors react to negative feedback based on different religious beliefs?
I’ll admit, it hurts when our books receive bad reviews or low star ratings just because the reader is hating on God. If we dwell on it, we’ll ask ourselves, “Why the heck did they even read it if they’re an atheist? It’s clearly labeled Christian fiction. It wasn’t meant for them.”
But… that’s where we’re wrong. When we give into this type of thinking, we’re completely missing the point of our God-given mission: to write to honor Him and spread His love to those who need it. Even if this non-Christian reads your book and completely trashes it online, writing a profanity-laden review, and spewing about how God is fake or whatever they think, for some reason, God allowed this person to pick up, and experience, a Christian book. At that moment, a seed was planted. Though the seed may be buried deep within the reader at the moment and show no visible signs of blossoming, it’s still there. That reader has still been exposed to the Light, whether or not they choose to douse the seed in darkness and hate. Something may happen in that reader’s life that will cause that seed to sow a belief in God later on, all because of your Christian book they once despised.
So, to endure the opposition from the world, we could become just like them and reflect the same hate and blame they give us back on them, or we could write by faith, and hope and pray that God will use those seeds to further His kingdom.
And Some are Righteous In Their Own Eyes
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.Matthew 9:10-13, kjv
When I published my first book back in 2017, I fully expected negative feedback from some secular readers, being the book had light references to Christianity; however, I never once anticipated how some Christian readers would react not only to my books, but a slew of other, well-written and thought-provoking, Christian books due to something called “negative content”.
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that, as a reader, I also am picky about which books I read due to my own preferences on negative content. For example, I try my best to avoid books with a lot of profanities and sexual content higher than kissing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having standards for your reading material. That being said, as an author, I’d like to warn fellow authors of Christian books about sects of readers who review books with the intent to draw negative attention to every single piece of what (sometimes even lightly) could be considered “negative content”, whether or not the “negative content” was featured in the book as a teaching opportunity.
These readers mean well; they want to offer other readers a chance to learn what kind of material is in a book before reading it for themselves, only to find that the material makes them uncomfortable. Nevertheless, what many reviewers don’t realize is that these types of reviews can negatively impact the author, if the author allows it, in a variety of ways. the reason I am exploring this issue in depth is to teach fellow Christian authors not to let these type of reviews get to them by remembering the following:
God gave YOU this book to write. If you followed His guidance, He is honored in this book. He approves. It doesn’t matter if no one else does.
The toughest lesson I’ve had to learn about reviews is that just because my books include portrayals of sin or triggering scenes (sins portrayed in a negative light; triggering scenes to be more relatable, or for teaching purposes), it doesn’t mean my books aren’t “Christian” enough for featuring negative content. If the books rely on, and accurately depict, biblical truths, and honor God, they’re Christian enough. No matter what anyone says about the book based on their personal brand of Christianity.
Reading can be subjective. And some readers just miss the point you’re trying to make.
If you were to go to the library right now and pick up a book on politics written by someone who is in a party you don’t agree with, it would most likely be difficult to read the book with an open mind if you have a strong set of beliefs that coincide with the book’s opposition. Similarly, though the Bible should be read objectively, humans have a way of interpreting its material subjectively, allowing their raising, denomination, and even political preferences to give them a point-of-view of the Bible that may not be 100% accurate according to the literal Word.
If a reader goes into your book with a set of constructed beliefs, and your book challenges those beliefs, they may get so caught up on how the two of you could have interpreted the Bible so differently that they miss the entire point of the book. The best example I can give is that some readers think some topics are too taboo to talk about (i.e. cheating, divorce, suicide, depression, etc.) and automatically dismiss a book for mentioning those, even if the book uses that perceived “negative” content to show how God can intervene and aid characters through hard times.
Some readers get so caught up on the “dos and don’ts” in the Bible that they spend more time worrying about the “dos and don’ts” listed in books, and they fail to realize the book is using “negative” content to share a positive light, just like the Bible does in the majority of its stories. Some may even go so far as to say the book is not Christian and will dissuade others from reading it, which can be tough to endure, if we allow it to get to us. But just keep in mind the fact that if you are objectively portraying biblical truths in the story, God is with you and can use the book no matter what anyone says. God is our judge, not other Christians.
Let’s keep Romans 8:31 in mind: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
Talk to Me, Arrowheads!
What are your thoughts on Part 4 of the Writing by Faith series? What other ways can Christian authors prepare for, and not succumb to, opposition from mental and spiritual standpoints?
Oh, and don’t forget…
I have started accepting clients for editorial services for Clean and/or Christian Young Adult and Middle Grade books! If you would like more information, or are in need of an editor, please check out my Editorial Services page!
Aim high, stay strong, and always hit your mark.