Somewhere, out there, far beyond the prairie, beyond the mountains forever stretching their stony fingers toward the handy work of God, beyond beaches, even… lurks the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is an elusive and accidental creature animated by the sons of Adam the size of Texas, yet, undetectable by the cosmic satellites we’ve built to keep an eye on such things. But it’s there all the same, just under the surface of things. It is a vortex of all that is untethered, tethered to all that is untethered. The current pushes the patch here and there, like a plastic Wal-Mart bag carried by every wind.
Writers & Readers
Beloved writers, why does this remind me of how we all too often are on social media?
Beloved readers: when you read an article, regardless of the wordsmithing and passion, ask yourself whether the author is tethered to their local Church. Ask yourself whether this author has any sort of pastoral heart for you, or the people their articles so often throw under the bus.
Words matter. Words are powerful.
I am a Pastor because Jesus is the Word made flesh, and He reveals Himself, among other things, in a book. I’m a writer because He has ordered my heart and mind in such a fashion, and when I write, I do so with fear and trembling because I realize that I have great power in these small words. Even in the incredibly small gift God has granted me there is great power, and I wonder: Am I humble enough to use this power for good? Have I the discernment to use this small mustard seed the Crucified Carpenter King has given me to build up His kingdom rather than my own fiefdom of tyranny?
I have written some on suffering. I believe that the best writers have skin in the game, that vulnerability is often credibility. Yet, vulnerability should never be viewed as the currency by which we pay for platform. I suppose I should stop pussyfooting around and simply state that my pastoral heart is grieved by what I see as manufactured grief produced for the sake of procuring likes and shares. We need to tell truth to power and yet we need to tell truth to ourselves as well. I’m not saying your grief is manufactured, I’m saying if it is you need to check yourself.
And it seems, and feels, like we at times have turned our brothers and sisters into behemoths: monolithic, faceless monsters on whom we can pin our troubles through words and tears in order to win the laudatory label “Brave”. We write that the Church, or the Evangelicals, or whomever, did this, that, or the other thing in cold blood, seemingly forgetting that we are the Church, and collective repentance is all too often lacking in these blogs and twitter rendezvous.
The Rat Race Will Run You Down
The pressure to produce yet another successful blog or tweet has caused some to feign wounds. Yes, we are to be truth tellers, but we are also supposed to be forgivers of trespasses.
It’s become easy to see which way the wind is blowing and to shoot our wounded accordingly. No one has a bigger target on her back than the Church. Obviously she has her sins, if you want to know why, gaze into your local pond, or baring that, head for a mirror.
What’s missing in so many exchanges and articles on social media is a pastoral heart for the reader and those we write contra to. One need not be a Pastor to have the pastoral heart. But, do not write if you’ve forgotten how to love.
In Matthew 9 the Lord Jesus had people tugging at His clothes, hounding Him, following Him, and laughing at Him. The Scriptures tell us what was going on in His divine heart…
When I write, and interact with my fellow image bearers on social media I try to be mindful that I am an under-shepherd beneath The Crucified Carpenter King. I try to remember that 1 Timothy 3:1-7 says I should be above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, gentle, not quarrelsome, and able to teach. It should be noted that if one is cold hearted toward his fellow man, he is not as able to teach. He will not be listened to by those with whom he disagrees, which is why so much of what we see online is nothing more than a tribal red meat potluck served up in comments, likes and RT’s.
The problem is much larger than believers forsaking the accountability and teaching of the local Church in favor of podcasts: it’s the untethered “thought leader” teaching online followers without a lifeline to the pastoral heart that must govern the shepherd.
The dumpster fire we so often are burned by on social media is the result of the untethered, tethering themselves to the untethered.
If you have to defend a writer with, “He’s really quite nice in person.” there’s a problem, and the problem isn’t how they are in person.
Before you write, and before you read, remember what the Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy,
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” ~ 1st Timothy 1.5 (NASB)
“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…”
~ 2nd Timothy 2.8a (NASB)