Blogging scares me and it should scare you too. In fact, all Christians should approach any form of social media with fear and trembling. I have been in Christian ministry for years and have benefited much from the online writing of others, but I have avoided any writing endeavor of my own because of this fear. I fear blogging because I know what is in man and more specifically what is in me.
The Danger Within Us
Ever since the garden of Eden, man has believed the lie of the Evil One – that the best pursuit of life is the pursuit of joy in being praised as a god rather than the pursuit of joy in praising the one true God. We unknowingly and subconsciously long for, fight for, and sacrifice much for the affirmations and praises of men at the expense of our own souls.
Romans 1:22-25 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Idolatry is the essence of the sin that lies within. It is in our very nature to exchange that which is incorruptible for that which is so quickly corrupted. We exchange the glory of the immortal God for the image of the man or woman we are building ourselves to be. We build these images not out of gold or stone, but through our facebooks, Instagrams, and twitters. Even the Christian minister is allured into building an image for the glory of himself through church buildings, budgets, books, and blogs. It is in our very nature to exchange the immortal and incorruptible glory of God for the short-lived corruptible glory of ourselves. We are at the very core of our being glory thieves seeking to sit on a throne that is not rightfully our own.
The Danger Around Us
Social media is designed to feed the monster within. With every “like”, “love”, “GIF”, “comment”, “emoji”, and “re-tweet”, the beast of pride licks its chops at the temporarily satisfying sensation of having our identity affirmed by another. This is dangerous for our souls in and of itself, but it is especially dangerous for Christians in the Christian sub-culture that we now find ourselves. For a couple hundred years, Western Christianity has enjoyed the freedom of worship without any threat of organized persecution. In this freedom, however, Christianity can lose its “costliness”. Not only does piety and obedience to the Great Commission cost us nothing, it may actually gain us respect, honor, fame, and even wealth. One can actually (and unintentionally) become a Christian celebrity through their faithfulness to the Great Commission and their passionate exposition of God’s Word. God sovereignly pours out the blessing of ministry fruitfulness on men of his choosing and he provides them with a platform of influence that the Word of God might be declared to the nations. These men write books, preach conferences, and make an eternal impact through their unique giftedness, but contrary to their desires, idolatrous desires can grow not only in their own hearts but in the hearts of those who want to be like them. Christian ministry can so quickly become a conduit for receiving the praise of man, rather than a tool for leading others to the praise of God. One can begin with best of intentions and somewhere along the way, while having the praise of God on their lips, they begin to seek the praise of man in their hearts.
Consider that moment in Acts 4 when Peter has just preached one of the most powerful sermons in human history and he goes on to heal a lame man outside the temple. “All the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them“, and Peter recognizes an immediate danger. He exclaims, “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?” Peter recognized the impending danger of taking glory reserved for God alone. Paul and Barnabas faced the same danger in Lystra when the crowds came together and, “They lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, ‘the gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Paul and Barnabas responded appropriately by tearing their garments and crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:8-15).
Even the followers of John the Baptist felt the allurement of ministry success in the vast numbers who were once coming to John for baptism. John’s followers came to him with this concern, “Look, he [Jesus] is baptizing and all are going to him.” In other words, look John, the church down the street is baptizing so many more than us! Look, John, your once thriving ministry is now declining in attendance! Praise God for the example of John the Baptist in this trying moment.
John 3:27-30 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
There is a moment in every wedding where the back doors fly open and the bride-to-be looks down the aisle at her awaiting groom. Their eyes lock and in the joy of the life-to-come, the wife slowly walks toward her future covenant partner. Can you imagine if, in that moment, the friend of the bridegroom begins to maneuver himself so that he might gain both the attention and affection of the bride? How unthinkably twisted! This is the twisted sin of the man who seeks the praises of God’s church for himself. He makes the dangerous decision to redirect the eyes of God’s bride on to himself for his own glory – something that God says he will not allow. “My glory I will not give to another” (Is. 48:11).
This is the first blog post I have ever written and I write it as a warning both to the reader and to myself. In all that we do, may we cry out along with the Psalmist, “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1).
Why Blog Then?
If blogging and other forms of social media are so potentially poisonous, why blog at all? Should we not stay away from such things if they can potentially puff us up with pride? Blogging is not the only thing that can potentially puff us up with pride. Pastoring, preaching, praying, leading worship, caring for the poor, international missions, and really any Christian ministry has the potential for stroking the ego within. The awareness of this danger should cause us to at the very least proceed with extreme caution, with prayerfulness, and with the accountability of Christian community, but this danger should not prevent us from pursuing potentially fruitful ministry endeavors.
While blogging can be a platform for one’s own praise, it can also be a platform for the glorious praise of the immutable God. Like Jeremiah, “There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9). Like John, “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” (1 John 1:4). Like Paul, “If I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). Blogging is a modern avenue for personal reflection and public proclamation of truths of God’s Word. It can be one tool among many for making disciples of all nations and teaching them to observe all that Jesus has commanded us. Devoted Together is a blog that exists to equip the local church with the theology that influences methodology and results in doxology. May God use anything and everything that is written on this site by His grace and for His glory.
By His Grace & For His Glory,
Pastor Brandon Langley
St. Rose Community Church