I’m sure you’ve heard it before. “If it glorifies God, then a story is acceptable.” The statement is true at its core and a good measure of whether any particular story is beneficial or not, but it is so often misused as to be worthless.
On one hand, you have the interpretation claiming that unless it is overtly Christian in theme, content, mentions God and Jesus, has a good salvation message in it somewhere, includes Bible verses, etc., then it isn’t glorifying God.
On the opposite side, glorifying God is reduced to excellence in what one does, no matter the content, that anything goes and some use that reasoning to justify reading spiritually damaging books.
What did Paul mean when he said:
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)
Like last week’s verse, once again we find Paul talking about food. Particularly in this passage, meat offered to idols. Paul’s main argument runs along the lines that meat is meat. Idol-gods don’t exist. One could eat such meat in ignorance and they would not be guilty of worshiping the idol.
However, once you know, a couple of factors come into play that should bring one to the conclusion that while eating it wouldn’t be sinful, it may not be beneficial either to the eater or other Christians. One, to knowingly eat meat offered to idols places you in fellowship with demons. (1 Cor 10:20-21) Two, your witness to brothers and sisters you have influence over can violate their conscience, because of the apparent endorsing of idols it would appear to be. (1 Cor. 10:28)
On the second point, Paul asks:
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man’s conscience? (1 Cor. 10:29)
He answers that question with our verse–whatever you do, do for the glory of God. He then ends those thoughts with the words:
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10:33)
In this context, what glorifies God? It can be summed up in one verse from this chapter:
Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. (1 Cor. 10:24 NASB)
Or to put it another way, love for our brothers and sisters. Notice the link between love and glory mentioned in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer:
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:22-24)
It is by this love that we are shown to be Christ’s (John 13:35), and exhibit the glory of God (Matt. 5:16). Paul’s point, then, is that in whatever we do, even mundane things like eating and drinking, we participate in it in such a way that God’s glory shines in us in how we love one another, so others will recognize Him in us, and by all means, save some.
In selecting our fiction, here are some questions to ask yourself as to whether reading it is glorifying God or not.
1. Does the quality of the product reflect the glory of God? If the author hasn’t taken the time to give his readers a good story, well written and formatted, what does it say about his love and respect for his readers? A Christian author/publishing house should have enough love for others that their efforts show a reader-centric focus.
2. Does the theme(s) of the story prompt the reader to greater love? Some characters won’t. Not all scenes may, taken in isolation, glorify God in this way, but when you look at the story as a whole, does it encourage you to love your neighbor more than before? Does it convict and motivate you to love God more?
3. Does consuming this story encourage others to violate their conscience? This doesn’t mean we are subject to everyone who has a gripe about the spiritual condition of an author, but if reading a book called, Satan’s Glory, would cause another Christian to sin against their conscience by reading it, it is not very loving to ignore your brother so that you can fulfill your own liberty. Lack of love for each other hides our light under a bushel.
Take these questions out for a spin. Applying the above credentials, does my old flash fiction that appeared at Everyday Fiction, The Captain’s Chair, glorify God? Do you feel it glorifies God for you to read it?