Bringing out holiness. Perhaps we artists would prefer to describe the concept as “drawing out holiness.” What does it mean to “bring–or draw–out holiness”? And how on earth could our writing affect holiness? Guest blogger, J.G. Spires, invites us to consider this concept.
What is “bringing out”?
First of all, this “bringing out” concept does not refer to an innate goodness that we tease out or encourage others to reveal from inside themselves. If we humans had innate goodness, we would not need God to be our Savior. The reality is we are sinful and we need Christ Jesus. When we set our faith and hope in what Christ Jesus has done and who He is, God declares us righteous and makes us holy based on Christ’s work and identity. Then we Christians experience continual growth as, little by little, the Holy Spirit conforms us to think, act, and desire as Jesus thinks, acts, and desires.
Becoming like Christ
Becoming like Christ, we grow in holiness as God changes our hearts and purges us of sin–a process that is painful and often feels slow or stagnant. But it is one God has promised will be successful because He is the One making us holy as He is holy.
What does the process of growing in holiness have to do with writing? Here is where “bringing out holiness” comes into play for us writers.
Writing, good or bad, stirs us. I remember reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as a child. I remember my indignation at one character’s insistence that the protagonist, an African American girl named Cassie, call a white girl her own age “Mizz.”I remember wishing Cassie were treated with the dignity she deserved as a human being. I loved Cassie. I hurt when she hurt. I learned from her discoveries. Mildred Taylor never knew I would read about Cassie, yet her writing evoked from me a righteous anger that to this day impacts how I regard those of other races and ethnic backgrounds. Her book stirred me to think of people unlike me and empathize with others. Such is the power of writing: it opens readers to thoughts and emotions beyond their own experiences.
Application to Christian writers
By cracking open minds and hearts through our works, we writers bring out holiness in others. We are called to steward our abilities and lead others in feeling holy emotions, such as righteous anger at injustice, compassion for sufferers, and desire to seek others’ good. We also lead others in thinking holy thoughts as we describe scenes, characters, and events in a manner that guides and develops readers’imagination and logic.
Drawing out holiness by leading others in thinking and feeling does not mean avoiding issues, evil, or ugliness. Thorns do not dim the beauty of a rose. In fact, the thorns, the surrounding ugliness, illuminate that beauty. Depicting the ugliness of life in a manner that exalts goodness is how we writers can bring out holiness in our readers.
Through our works, we lead others in considering what is good and what is ugly in life. We stir in readers thoughts and emotions that can foster their growth as Christians or, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, bring them to the point of becoming Christians. We bring out holiness as we describe a rainbow in a waterfall, a twinkle in a grandmother’s eye, a cat’s soft purr, a woven pattern on a pillow, or a sigh after a hard day at work. We bring out holiness in readers by creating a space in which they think about, experience, and desire goodness so that in their hearts, they worship the God who is good.
How about you? Have you ever considered “bringing out holiness” in your writing? How can you do that in the future? Leave a comment, subscribe to the Write2Ignite newsletter (link on the right), or share this post on social media, and you will earn one, two, or three chances to win the historical novel, Enya’s Son. Make sure you leave your email address with what you did so you can be given credit. Contest ends July 28th and will be announced on Monday’s blog–so enter soon!
Julia Klukow (pen name J.G. Spires) grew up in Orlando, Florida, where Disney and designs to outrun alligators fueled her imagination. Because she loves stories, she studied English, earning her BA at North Greenville University before moving north to study for a Master of Art in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary. She hopes the truth of Jesus Christ comes out in each piece she writes as she pursues teaching and creative writing as a means of communicating the gospel. You can find online Julia on her blog.