Love Letters

by Randy Petersen

If you’re looking here for inside tips on the writing business, you might be disappointed, but you shouldn’t be. I’m recommending a tool for Christian writing that’s absolutely essential.

Not a tech gadget. It won’t correct your spelling or grammar or theology. (I am intrigued, however, by the idea of a Theolo-check feature, where a balloon pops up, saying, “This sentence seems dangerously antinomian.”)

But no, it doesn’t even feel right to call this a “tool” for writing—though without it all your lovely prose will have the subtlety of a clanging gong. Maybe we could call it a program or process or principle, or something else beginning with P.

All I know is, it’s a must-have for Christian writers. Without it, you might as well highlight everything in your portfolio and hit Delete.

Priority. That’s the word I was looking for. It’s far more important than all the tips and tricks, themes and schemes, project-getters, deadline-setters, and detail-vetters. The Christian writer who doesn’t have this, according to one renowned expert, is “nothing.”

No need for further suspense—since you surely figured it out about 100 words ago. What is this indispensable tool/principle/priority?


You know that, but it’s incredibly easy to forget. Especially these days, when words become weapons. Christians feel embattled. We have so much to fight for, and even more to fight against, it seems. Shouldn’t we use our way with words to show our enemies how wrong they are?

Well, no. Whatever our “ministry of reconciliation” is (2 Corinthians 5:18), it surely involves more wooing than weaponry. Shouldn’t our conversation, spoken or written, be “full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:4)? Might our facility with language actually help to turn enemies into friends?

The Most Important Thing

I can hear you yawning. News flash: Christian blog comes out in favor of “love”!  So what else is new? Love has long been on the short list of highly valued Christian principles, along with truth, faith, holiness, humility, and so on.

But love is not just one of the virtues, it’s the top priority for those who follow Jesus. By my count, there are eight New Testament passages that clearly put love in that highest-priority position. Look for yourself. You might find only six, or maybe twelve. But the language is consistent: love isn’t only good, it’s the most important thing.

What’s the most important commandment in the Law? Well, two, actually, says Jesus—love God and love your neighbor. At the Last Supper, Jesus gives his disciples a “new commandment.” This will be the distinguishing mark of his team: love. Paul keeps saying that love is the fulfillment of the law, and there’s that amazing thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. Without love, we’re toast. Faith and hope, as great as they are, can’t hold a candle to love.

So how can we, as Christian writers, show love to God, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies?

That’s the question to ask. Not, How will I build my platform? Or, What’s the best way to outline an award-winning article? Or, Should I capitalize pronouns for deity? These are all part of the work we do, but the most important thing is love. How will we show love in our work?

The Ephesian Season

The book of Revelation begins with a report card for seven congregations. As you might expect, the church of Ephesus—founded by Paul, shepherded by Timothy, possibly counseled by John—gets pretty good grades for their “hard work” and “perseverance.” They stood up for God’s truth against false teachers. All good.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4).

The embattled believers fought valiantly in tough times, but they left the most important thing behind. I wonder if we’re in a similar time now, an Ephesian season, if you will. We’re fighting tenaciously for truth and survival, but what are we neglecting?

We mustn’t let love become a casualty of our skirmishes. Let’s use our literary gifts to show and share love. Let’s put forth that first-mentioned fruit of the Spirit every time we put our fingertips on that keyboard, wooing our readers, both friends and enemies, and glorifying our passionate God.

Will you join me in the prayer Paul offered for those Ephesian believers? “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).


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