Being a Christian means I believe God created the universe. (No this isn’t a creation/evolution debate—the point here is not how He did it, only that He did.) So, God creating space and time means He exists outside of those constructs. God can’t be limited. God can’t be put inside a box.
That doesn’t stop Christians from trying, though. Church buildings are boxes we visit in order to commune with God, but we can connect with Him anywhere—the car, the kitchen, hiking through the forest, biking, riding a rollercoaster, on a boat, in a cave, on another planet, whatever. Yes, even hanging out in the local pub or rocking out at a concert.
And we don’t necessarily choose when and where those meetings take place. We can get all dolled up and head off to church, Bible and coffee in hand, ready for a spiritual fill-up, and get everything we hoped for—or we may leave the building feeling as empty as when we arrived. Or, we can be walking along the sidewalk feeling as far from God as possible and be smacked upside the head with His presence.
Frankly, I’ve quit going to church thinking it’s going to be my time with God. My time with fellow Christians, yes. My time catching up with friends I only ever see on Sunday morning. My time to learn something, sure! But genuine connection time with God, not so much.
Truth is, I don’t get drawn in by most Christian music, contemporary or otherwise. There are a few hymns that speak to me, and even some more modern songs that have brought me to tears at very specific times. But I’ve had far more moments like that outside of church, listening to music that would never be played inside a church building. Music that was likely written for an entirely different purpose, possibly by someone who doesn’t even believe in God.
The same thing happens for me with books.
I run in circles with other writers, many of them who consider themselves “Christian writers.” Others prefer to identify as “Christians who write.” Whatever the term they choose, there is a level of wanting to put God into their books. Not necessarily as a character, but to write in a way that points to Him, or sends a message. Overtly or symbolically, preachy or subtle, mainstream or spec-fic, these authors strive to include or reflect their faith.
Here’s the thing—our faith is imperfect. We put what we see as Christianity into our books. And they are just words. They may be words that make people think, but they are not magic words that call the spirit of God into the book. God chooses when to work through fiction, and which fiction to work through, no matter the author’s intent.
I’m not saying we can never put someone’s book under the microscope. If a book presents a specific theological message, readers have a right to dissect it. But that doesn’t mean God can’t use that book to reach someone. And God can also use a book having no theological message, or even a negative one.
The point is, we can pack whatever we want inside a book, and slap whatever label we choose on it – but it is up to God what work He uses and how. The same holds true for movies and music and art. God cannot be constrained by space or time (things He created), so why do we continually expect him to be constrained by the things we as mere humans create?