Sometimes writers like to lament the torturous nature of the craft. It can be a little self-exalting when we spend a lot of time trying to convey just how very agonizing is the process of producing good books, articles, poems, sermons, or speeches. Some of us male writers even make the numbskull move of comparing writing to giving birth. Men, whatever your profession and how painful the process of performing it well, just …don’t. Writing isn’t that hard, but it is difficult. Yet those for whom writing is not a necessary evil, but just necessary, can probably identify with the way one friend put it upon the completion of a project: “The only thing harder than writing it would be not writing it.” (He should have added “…and childbirth”). All of that to say this: When your hard work is recognized, appreciated, and actually endorsed by fellow writers/thinkers whose work you appreciate, the validation is deep. And when that endorsement will help get the word out about a project very dear to your heart, it’s profoundly encouraging.
I’m proud and grateful that the very first official endorser of my book is Aimee Byrd. Her work has been a balm to many, especially the young adults to whom I minister regularly. These are young adults who spy the true nature and increasing number of cultural accretions being preached as gospel truths, particularly in the theological circles I inhabit. They feel spiritually suffocated as their thoughts, questions and doubts which are honestly posited and perfectly poised to be led into deep biblical truth are instead treated as threats to church unity and signals of personal worldliness. My book’s target audience is young adults who’ve had very little or a very bad experience with the church and the Scriptures. It was published in 2019, and it’s been heartbreaking in all the tumult of the past year especially to see the latter group multiply, seemingly exponentially, within churches that pride themselves on deep biblical learning and right practical living.
Sometimes it’s not so much that the numbers are multiplying; it’s that what’s already been simmering beneath the surface is boiling up and over as courageous people step forward to ask good-faith questions and raise genuine gospel concerns about how the church is, or isn’t, living according to her Savior’s word. The numbers do multiply, though, when still-silent souls see what happens to other believers, laity and leaders, who sincerely attempt to call us closer to the Word and therefore to our Lord’s heart and will for us. They watch, heartbroken, as such people are met with harshness, suspicion, and even church discipline pursued as reflex rather than last resort. They’ve been told that the church is the place to go to be truly loved and led in the Lord, but they find that when it comes to their soul’s deep personal and social concerns, the church just isn’t safe.
To add to their unease, culturally sensitive believers learn of horrifying predatory behavior by globally celebrated Christian teachers; they see the great pains that some pastors have taken to deny the reality of abuse on the local level and to castigate victims and reporters as ungodly. When local, national, and global atrocities are not met with real personal and corporate repentance, actual change of practice, and tangible steps to ensure accountability, it’s quite understandable that concerned souls would begin to think that the problem isn’t just with particular views of the Bible and particular Christian communities, but with the Scriptures and the God of the Bible himself. The Savior and his word are slandered because of the sins of his self-proclaimed servants.
Part of my burden in writing my book is to reckon with these realities and to speak to young hearts who feel and see them far more keenly and insightfully than many of us older believers tend to, or want to. Humbly, I want to help readers overcome philosophical, practical, and personal barriers – including those we build in the church – which keep them from seeing Scripture on its own terms, and therefore to see more clearly the Savior to whom the Bible bears divinely inspired witness. That’s why I was so heartened to see this further recommendation from Aimee, whose writing has helped me and others to recognize such obstructions in the church to the freedom and fulness we’re meant to know and live out in Christ.
Writers recognize that our particular projects are never really done, that writing is rewriting. Christian writers recognize that the Bible is the only perfect book ever written. Our writing is imperfect, worthy of critique and yet hopefully helpful to readers in showing something of the truth, beauty, and goodness of our Savior. I humbly recommend my own book – and its other recommendations! – toward that end, especially for young adults and those who love and lead them. The work in producing it was not (at all!) as hard as bringing new life into the world, but I pray that this literary effort will faithfully lead readers into the life-giving words of the true and living Christ.