The Internet offers much toward the advancement of the gospel. We all know this. It gives ministries like The Village, The Resurgence, Desiring God, and Mars Hill the ability to stream gospel-centered content to people, to nations who wouldn’t have been able to be exposed to such solid teaching otherwise. It gives bloggers like Lore Ferguson, Amber and Seth Haines, Tim Challies, Russell Moore, and collectives like The Gospel Coalition, Deeper Story, Deeper Church, and ProjectTGM the ability to analyze culture and pour truth-filled words onto a page to help the lost come to know the freedom and grace of Christ Jesus. This is a good thing. But there is also something we have to be careful of.
It can become so easy to get caught up in defending a certain aspect of truth that we forget to keep the bigger picture in mind. I’m not saying that those I’ve mentioned give me a reason to say this, rather that it is something I’ve noticed in general, especially in the blogging world and Twitter. It is so easy to see something we disagree with and write a response trying to correct the offender of our conscience. While all truth is worth wrestling with and defending at the right time and place, because it does shape the Jesus we portray, maybe we should be slower to respond than we are.
A couple days ago, I looked at my blog stats at the end of the day, and I saw something that absolutely humbled, broke, and terrified me all at the same time. It wasn’t the number of hits or views, it was a search term. It was a phrase that someone typed into Google, hit Enter, and landed on my blog.
Yes, you read that correctly. Since I don’t have a way of knowing what page this person landed on, all I can do is pray that it was something of substance. Something that pointed to Jesus as King and Lord and Savior. Instead of something that challenged another blogger solely on the premise that I disagree with them.
Those who know me personally know that I love Theology. Not just studying it, but I love reading and writing about it. I love discussing, debating, wrestling, and at times even arguing about the finer points of Theology. And just like a good sparring match, once we step out of the ring we remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and love each other and Jesus, which is why we step into the ring in the first place: to hone and sharpen each other and ourselves in the gospel and its implications. But, while this is well and good over chicken wings and beer, or bread and wine, maybe it isn’t so good where a stranger can read the words on a page and possibly not feel the love and grace behind such a conversation. Or worse still, maybe because topics are discussed over text and type, our words aren’t as seasoned with salt as they would be if there was an actual face to face conversation, and love and grace really is absent.
I know, the world and how we convey Theology has changed drastically since Scripture was penned. So, sometimes there is a need to talk about issues, to reprove and rebuke publicly (2 Tim. 4:2). But Scripture is clear that the goal of such actions should be to “restore” the other person “in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). If that’s not the goal behind these conversations, why do we have them? To get our way? To defend our rights against brothers and sisters in Christ who aren’t even members of the same local church, and really have no effect on our lives directly? Is Christ not our advocate? Does Christ not rescue and defend the weak and poor? Does He not speak out for the voiceless?
Does Christ not lead the different local manifestations of His Church in the direction He wants them to go, even when we can’t understand it?
Are there times that He uses the Church to perform some of these actions? Yes, absolutely. But, as Paul preached nothing but “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” for over a year (1 Cor. 2:2), maybe that’s the stance we should take. It wasn’t that Paul preached the “bridge from sin to God” type of message for a year, rather he expounded on the reality of the gospel implications on all of life. Politics, business, home life, how we work, gender roles, God’s sovereignty over suffering. The gospel, King Jesus killed and raised to life, affects everything. So, when we discuss these second tier issues, we should remember that we aren’t enemies, we are family who happen to disagree, and a family called and commanded to show love and grace to one another, and to preach Christ crucified with our lives, lips, and written words. Let that be our center.
Before I saw that search term show up on my blog stats, I probably wouldn’t have let it sink in, and may have even challenged it. But, by God’s grace, I agree.
And I feel pressed, now more than ever, to make sure the words that fill this space aren’t simply a cultural analysis or a response to another blog, but that even when those posts happen, that they would ultimately point to Christ, and Him crucified. Because, in the end, that is what the least, the lost, and the lonely need.
That is why Christ came: to give grace by saving people who can’t save themselves, for the glory of God.