Christian fiction is powerful.
So powerful, even, that it has the potential to become idols of all sorts in our lives.
Last week, I shared six books that impacted me. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a book or two (or five hundred) that left us with the post-Bible-camp spiritual high that inspired us to become a martyr or dragon slayer for a week. In Christian fiction, those books often push us in the right direction — toward healthy things like focus on Christ or growing in our faith.
And yet, that written power can still be dangerous.
I used to read The Mark of the Lion series, by Francine Rivers every January. It was especially helpful when I was at a spiritual low because, without fail, Hadassah’s story transformed my low into a high. Just like magic.
Inside, it never felt right, because I knew I was turning to fiction instead of God to somehow grow my faith.
“But it’s Christian fiction!” I thought. “It’s written for the purpose of drawing us closer to God. Right?”
Yes, but what happens when it does this so well that we then use that book as a tool? A portal into temporary spiritual bliss? It happened to me several times and I only recently wondered if other readers are affected in the same way. How many of us are blind to this?
This doesn’t just happen with the “spiritual books” by the way. There are some great books on marriage out there or romance that inspire me to be a better wife. Books that inspire me to live a more devoted life. These are all fantastic resources as long as I don’t rely on them for my growth.
I finally promised myself I’d never again pick up a book for a “fix.” If I started allowing myself to view books as a faith tool, then that started turning them into idols. I never thought fiction could be an idol. Never. Until I saw myself using it as one.
In response, I didn’t read The Mark of the Lion series for over five years. Long enough to grow in my faith and get a new perspective on how to deal with the power of Christian fiction. I felt the same tug when I read The Blood of Kings series, by Jill Williamson and had to caution myself on when I read them.
The books God inspires authors to write are potent. It’s important for us, as Christians, to recognize both the benefits and dangers. It’s a wonderful and intense thing to come away from a book energized and in love with Christ. And that is a good thing. But I caution you (and myself repeatedly) to only turn to God as the base and cornerstone of spiritual growth.
Do you have any books that have given you that positive spiritual/emotional high after reading it?