by Karen Ball
We’ll get back to focus next week, but something has been weighing heavy on my heart and I want to share it with you.
We all know that publishing is a tough gig. It was proven yet again by what happened last week with the B&H Publishing Group’s fiction division (see Steve’s blog about it). It’s easy to commiserate with the authors impacted by this sudden change, to pray for them and encourage them. But I saw something happening in a number of blogs and author loops, and I confess it troubles me. What I saw was people making caustic comments about the publisher and about the people who work at the publishing house. Even to the point of questioning their faith. As in “How can they call themselves a Christian publisher and do something like this?”
Friends, first and foremost, there is no such thing as a “Christian” publisher. There are publishing houses that provide Christian products, many of which have people working there who are Christians. But, as Steve put it, business is business, even when the business has the higher purpose of spreading the Gospel of the Good News. And Christians in business must sometimes make terrible decisions to keep their companies going. I know we, from the outside, look at the impact of some of those decisions and are outraged. Especially when those we care about are hurt. Disagree with them, yes. By all means, disagree. But to call into question someone’s faith…to accuse them of doing wrong or evil because we disagree?
Not on your life.
Because neither you nor I know all the details. We weren’t there, with them, inside their heads and hearts as they made these decisions. Not one of us saw how making these decisions impacted them. How they worried or struggled or sought God’s counsel. And none of us can say, with any measure of truth, that they didn’t seek God! How dare we presume to do so?
When you or I are tempted to do this, I pray these words will stop us: “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Our love.
If that doesn’t do it, how about, “Love your enemies!” (Because heaven knows, the way some folks have talked about this publisher, they must be our enemies.) As it is written, “Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
This business is hard. Grueling. It can chew you up and spit you out. Let’s not make it even harder by our words and actions toward each other. Instead, let’s take these painful times and let them turn our eyes to the One who called us to writing in the first place. None of this surprised God. Nothing that any publisher or business does can change the fact that He is in control. Of every aspect of our lives. And He is at work, refining us. Even in the hard times. Especially in the hard times. Look to Him and His truths to get past the pain and anger, and to remember who we are—HIS children—and why we’re doing this—to bring His truth to a weary world.