When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

Let’s face it: sometimes, fictional worlds just seem better than reality. Books, movies, TV shows – they’re usually crafted from stories created by writers.

 

I love all kinds of fiction, whether I’m absorbing an action-drama TV show or a riveting fantasy novel. In all honesty, they’re pretty great. We all love the well-developed characters – those people we can’t imagine not being real – the witty dialogue – the relationships between our “screen friends” – the realness of it all – the fact that we relate to it – the mood and setting – the music and filmography – the expressions – it’s the magic of everything working together that captivates us.

 

Maybe we like fiction because it’s an escape from reality. But at the same time, we want it to be realistic.

 

How on earth could this make any sense?

 

I believe we want reality in a neat little box. We want decisions to be simple, pain to be controlled, good to always win, and to be involved in something incredible. We want heroism. We want victory. We want to experience something powerful and bigger than ourselves.

 

But in our lives, neatness is not usually the case. Decisions are rarely black and white, with one choice as good and another evil. Morality isn’t always clear.

 

Pain happens. Hearts break. Happy endings don’t always come together. And for crying out loud, folks, our lives often seem so boring. We’re not chasing bad guys or riding dragons or being heroes or going on adventures through space and time.

 

So we read about it, and we entertain ourselves with fantasies of what’s not quite possible for us in this world.

 

And honestly, fiction is FANTASTIC. We can be intimately involved in the lives of our favorite characters and live vicariously through them. I love that aspect of it so much.

 

What I don’t like is that when I’m so involved in a world of writing, acting, and fangirly feels, my longing for the Bible tends to decrease. But why is this? As a girl who desperately wants to wholeheartedly desire the Word of God, I find myself frustrated when I feel like the Bible has become a chore.

 

I want to make sure it’s clear that I’m not trying to preach at anyone here, or demean fiction, or make it sound like I’m super-spiritual or something. I deal with the same things you do. I sometimes struggle to find motivation to read the Bible, as opposed to the novel beside my bed. I’m not perfect whatsoever, and I’m pulled between reading a devotion and watching my favorite show.

 

I don’t judge those who struggle to desire to read the Bible, because I think we’ll all encounter that sometime in our lives.

 

But what about when fictional realities seem more attractive than real life?

 

What do we enjoy about fantasy that makes us want to stay there, and what is it about the Bible that we treat it like work or obligation?

 

When did we forget that the Bible, salvation, and our very faith affects the whole universe, and those things are significantly larger than ourselves? When did we let our views of God’s amazing love and grace become dulled?

 

I’m addressing questions just like this in the book I’m writing right now. I don’t have every answer, but I’m really enjoying sharing my heart on such issues and further solidifying what I believe. I finished up Camp NaNoWriMo with 17,131 words, and while I’m still technically on the third (very very long) chapter, I’m getting so far.

 

Instead of trying to answer all the questions a lot of us have, I’m just going to ask us to think:

 

What’s so cool about fiction that it often seems cooler than Jesus?

Why does faith sometimes take the back burner when it comes to entertainment?

What can we do to grow in our hearts the desire of knowing Jesus better?

 

I’ll leave you with that for the night, because it’s extremely late and I’m losing coherence. For more posts on Bible reading, see these:

 

// The Bible Is Not A Burden: 3 Truths About God’s Word

 

// How to Read the Bible {effectively spending time with our Heavenly Father}

 

// Why Should I Read the Bible?

 

*aj

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24 thoughts on “When Fiction Seems Cooler Than Jesus

  1. Yep. I relate to this so much. But thankfully, the fiction I always love the best and the longest is the fiction that helps me understand God’s word. My mind works in stories, so if I can pull a Biblical allusion out of a story, I do it, and it helps me understand and remember theology that much better. Sometimes I do get too obsessed with the story itself (see embarrassing Star Wars phase), so I’m not perfect, and I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be careful to have moderation in all things.

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    • Absolutely! I didn’t mention Christian fiction/etc. here, but I totally agree. I don’t mean to say books are bad at all, I truly love them so much. I’m just trying to work out why the Bible sometimes seems less attractive when put next to a novel.
      I definitely go on obsession kicks, which is kind of where I’m coming from too. Moderation is definitely a good thing – and “idolizing” fiction, so to speak, can hurt us in the long run – that is, when we make it the most exciting or important thing in our lives. 🙂

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      • Exactly. I totally understand that.

        Even with good fiction that I get a lot of spiritual worth from, it can still cause me problems. For instance, a few weeks ago when a friend was having another bout with leg pain, I realized how much I just wanted a magical cure. I read all these fantasy books where people CAN heal magically, and I want that because it’s so hard for me to see my friend in pain. And when I’m wishing so hard for a magical healing gift, I lose sight of the fact that God is way better than any healing gift in a fantasy book. Even though it doesn’t seem fair that God doesn’t just heal my friend (because He could), He knows what He’s doing, and He has a reason for allowing the pain. And a reason for not allowing me to have a magical healing gift to fix my friends’ problems.

        But in that realization, I realized that I need to step back and stop wishing for fiction to be real. It’s not good to be so absorbed in fiction that we forget reality, even if it’s really good fiction in a lot of ways. Characters in books so often have the power to fix things themselves, but we don’t. We work for God’s kingdom, we fight for His glory, but ultimately, it’s still all up to God. Even the presidential election with Cruz now pulling out. It’s making me really depressed, but I keep reminding myself (and being reminded) that God’s still in control. Obama’s presidency wasn’t the end of the world, so hopefully a Hillary or Trump one won’t be either.

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      • Yes. 🙂 That’s what I was trying to get at. When we go far enough to say that we’re unhappy with our lives and God’s way of working things, it becomes unhealthy.
        We have to keep sight of God, and His love for us, even when things seem bleak 😉 And they very well do, sometimes.

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  2. I think that the issue might be that the Bible isn’t fictional. It’s real, and reality can seem a bit more boring than fiction, especially when we’ve heard the story so many times. It also has a bit to do with the writing style. The story itself is better than anything in fiction, but it’s harder to read. Of course, that’s not a good excuse for not reading the Bible.
    I also think that, when we read fiction, we’re often looking for truth. Think of how often in a story the climax involves the hero sacrificing him/herself for someone else. Guess where that storyline came from. Fiction often exposes Biblical truths in new ways that we haven’t been desensitized to, so when we read something about a hero’s sacrifice, it can tug at our heartstrings and then we remember(hopefully) what the hero did is similar to what Jesus did.

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    • That’s definitely true. Instead of the Bible being completely made-up and an alternative to reality, it’s as real as books get. That in and of itself can be intimidating – that it’s 100% true and totally life-affecting.
      We’re playing in two different ball games, honestly.
      I love stories like that. In a literature textbook I have, my favorite quote reads, “Truth is not genre-specific.” That’s what I love about fiction – it can portray truth, and so well so many times, and yet, it’s never as great as the real thing. It should point us to the source instead of becoming the source.

      Thank you for commenting! 🙂

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  3. Excellent post! ❤ I think we often replace pursuing a relationship with God with entertainment. This was a great reminder to always make my relationship with God the first priority. 🙂

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  4. Great post, Amanda! Very true. People use fiction as means of an escape. I confess I do. But it’s not fiction I turn to when I am facing a hard circumstance or need healing. God’s Word is a life source for me. Great food for thought, girly 🙂

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    • Thank you for that beautiful point.
      We often treat fiction as an escape – please don’t think I’m excluded from this – but just as our hearts were made to crave significance and true comfort, only God can supply that, whereas man-made things ultimately cannot. 😉

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    • Thanks, Natasha! 🙂 It is frustrating to realize it – but even when we do find we’ve got our priorities (easily!) out of order, there is always grace and hope for us. The Bible testifies to that, anyway! Haha! Thanks for commenting! 😉

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  5. Pingback: May Monthly Recap | Scattered Journal Pages

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