Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Ambassadors of Christ must not be publicly trivial

Preachers of the gospel are ambassadors of Christ. All Christians are this, but heralds of the good news are in a special sense. As public representatives of the Son of God, we are commanded to exemplify the joy and the power of the truths we proclaim. And our hearers are right to examine us to see if that is what we are doing.

I am not pointing the finger at anyone in particular. But as I look at the blogs of various gospel heralds, it seems not uncommon to find a regular stream of triviality. Christ appointed me to be no man's judge, but I must ask - is this triviality in keeping with our holy calling? Should the Word of God be regularly served up together with mindless tat?

I grant the truth contained in all the possible counter-protests. Yes, we're not meant to be dull, humourless, mono-dimensional individuals. We're not meant to present an image of Christianity as automatically and always restrictive, colourless, empty. Laughter is not a sin. Satire has its place in our teaching. But please - what's any of that got to do with it? If you can't tell the difference between that and what I just said, perhaps you're gone already? Yes, Jesus himself was never dull... but was he ever trivial in his public statements? And widely-linked blogs on the world-wide web are public statements, aren't they?

I didn't say that everything trivial is wrong, or that life must be empty of the trivial. That's not possible. I said the trivial should be kept in its own - very limited - place. Is a regular dose of the trivial served up to the world by a minister of Christ, the same as "keeping the trivial in its place"? I'm not laying down any fixed, extra-Biblical rules here to bind anyone's conscience. Rather I think these questions should be enough for any enlightened, Christ-loving conscience.

Again, I'm pointing at nobody in particular. If any of the following examples remind you of anyone or anything, then it's a coincidence - I've made them all up. But I ask... if you're a preacher of the gospel, and if you speak to the world through your blog, then is it really right for your readers to be regularly finding videos of monkeys playing guitars, worthless gibbering about this world's fading celebrities, needless jokes, rock songs performed by unlikely orchestras, football chat, and pointless links to novelty news stories? Do we want people to take us seriously, or not? Do these thinks help, or hinder, that mission? Do you think that if the Internet technologies had existed in the first centuries, that Christ's apostles would have used them to spread these kinds of things, or not? If not, why not, and why is it OK for us?

What is the purpose of the trivial on pastors' blogs? Does it advance the kingdom of God? Does it build people up? Will it help people to realise that we're deadly serious with every teaching that the rest of our society scoffs at? Does it show a clear alternative to the triviality-obsession of present Western society, and point the way to something better? Does it show a better, counter-culture... or show that we've been sucked into and the world's doomed culture? Does it indicate that our minds are being conformed, or transformed?

He who has ears to hear - let him hear. And make sure you don't protesteth too much!

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