“Whatever you are, be that thing in Christ.”
Words like the above, often well meaning, usually come with the following extensions: Make sure you are for Jesus wherever you find yourself. Make sure you use your talent for God. If you’re a singer, sing for Jesus. If you’re a teacher, teach for Jesus. If you’re a writer, write for Jesus.
That last bit, I’ve failed at it. In fact, someone DMed me on Facebook to ask why I haven’t written anything about the gospel. In his words, “why are you not using your talents for the kingdom?” I’m not sure I gave a straightforward answer. I’m not sure I even answered at all. I felt slighted and at the same time, ashamed. Consequently, I began to post the occasional scripture to “remind” my Christian friends I was still one of them. When that did not work so well for them, they began to tax me: Queen, write something about the beatitudes, Queen write something about Christmas and the significance of the birth of Christ, Queen write something about the second coming.
I didn’t deliver on any.
Well, being things for Christ is preached so new Christians understand God wants them to retain their authenticity even as they follow him. This I find unproblematic. I just have a few things to say.
On one hand, I understand the essence of doing things for God. If I was a devout Christian, I would probably preach same. Salvation is the most significant event in a Christian’s life so why won’t your life’s activities revolve around it? On the other hand, three things bother me:
One. I don’t understand what the pressure is about. Art and pressure have never mixed well. Why would you want me to perform for you?
This is how writing works: You sit before a blank page or screen and as you move your hand, there is an outpouring of you. Your thoughts. Your opinions. The stories you want to tell. The emotions you want to release. An outpouring of you. You have to want to talk about it. You have to feel strongly about it. That’s how good writing is made, in sincerity. And honesty, despite my many failures, is something I care about. If my art will rally around my faith, it has to happen naturally. I should not do it because it is what is expected of me.
Two. I don’t understand why art and faith cannot exist in separate spheres. There are a million things to write about. Why can’t my art be about other faith-neutral things? And no, this is not because I want to hide my faith. This is because the artist should have creative freedom.
Let’s divagate. (Haha, David, I used this word before you!)
I once wrote about a notorious Nigerian criminal. Find that story here. (It’s pretty old and could use some work so, beware while reading). The point is one of my Christian friends didn’t like the sex scene. I, on the other hand, thought the scene was important for the overall framing of the story. In the narrative, intimacy killed Anini and showing it was important to me.
I wrote one flashfic one time like that. In the flashfic, the very arrogant and self-absorbed character said “US of Motherfucking A” and my Christian friend asked me to remove that line. I did.
Because art should accommodate all your humanness, suppression of any kind does a great disservice to art.
I see someone coming to take me out of context o. E go be.
That is that about that.
Three. In the Christian community, my kind of work looks unimportant and undeserving of conversation. Of course, I don’t intend to compete with the gospel but other things are attention-worthy too. It’s important we have all kinds of conversations and that all kinds of people are involved in these many conversations. I like to believe the church needs all kinds of Christians.
Again, I see someone coming to take me out of context.
Why is any of this important?
One day in church, I was called to the altar. There was a word from God for me. I was told God wants me to write for him and that in return, He would give me peace and grant me my hearts’ desires. It meant something to me cos I was somewhat awwwwned that God had something to say to me. Feeling overlooked is sometimes the only thing I know. And truthfully, I think some of you are here just to indulge me. Oh, the many whinings of an overfed child. Or, is it not Queen again? Don’t worry. I don’t mind. Back to the subject. A few months after that prophecy (or instruction?), I started this blog. I wonder now if I am in direct rebellion cos I’m sure this is not what God had in mind. Recently, I published a somewhat critical, modernized Bible story on African Writer and I also don’t think it’s what God had in mind.
So, for now and till I say otherwise, I’m not a Christian Writer. I’m a Christian who writes.