A number of years ago, I recall listening to a sermon when the preacher spoke about all the problems the Israelites had while traveling through the wilderness for forty years after leaving Egypt. He was semiapologetic for the simplicity of the morning’s lesson.
The Israelites kept forgetting God.
Next time you read the book of Exodus, think about how the Israelites could have walked from Egypt to the Promised Land in a matter of weeks. The shortest distance between Egypt and Canaan is about 400 miles. God had other plans.
Other than the physical challenge, we have it easier than the Israelites in the desert, who had no written Scriptures to carry around as God was “external.” Christ-followers have the Holy Spirit living in them and the complete Holy Scriptures to read, ponder, and remind them of what God has done. Not to mention thousands of new Christian books published every year!
Christian books have a distinct purpose in today’s world and throughout history. What some might call “preaching to the choir” is really “reminding the disciples about who God is and what he has done.” Certainly, the Bible is the greatest example of God reminding us.
The choir is a forgetful group.
An aspect of the church is to remind those in it about certain things every year. Advent is a reminder of Christ’s coming to Earth. Lent reminds us about Christ’s sacrifice. Communion is specifically instituted by Jesus so we “remember.” The entire traditional church calendar is filled with events to recall.
Devotional books teach some readers new things. But for most users, daily readings remind them of truths we tend to set aside in the busyness of life.
Christian fiction might portray a Christ-follower being reminded of something spiritually important they might have forgotten about relationships or life in general.
Bible-study books, while they might illuminate a chapter or book of the Bible and teach new believers, serve as theological Post-it notes in the hands of more mature Christ followers.
For sure, Christian nonfiction books teach; but more often than not, they find a creative way to illuminate familiar, but long-forgotten principles.
I am convinced most Christian books for small children are not only for teaching the child but also for reminding the older person reading them about the greatness of God. (I know someone who came to Christ working in his son’s kindergarten Sunday school class.)
Christian writers don’t always have to find new angles or obscure passages to teach only to be different. You don’t need to find something to write no one has ever done before.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding creative and compelling ways to unpack the Sermon on the Mount, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, Genesis 1:1, Psalm 23, John 3:16, or Ephesians 2:8-9. A Christian writer never runs out of material.
Some topics or passages have been done before many times. But generations of believers forget, so we need to be continually reminded why Jesus came and how we should live, among a myriad of other things.
Creative Christian writers have a life-purpose to communicate God’s truth. And a significant portion of it will be writing reminders of something their readers already know, but forgot in the course of living.