CAREFUL WISHES AND THANKFULNESS FOR OBSCURITY
There was a time shortly after we started publishing this blog about six months ago when I hoped that it will attract millions, yes million of readers, from all over the world who would read, comment and weigh in on what we discussed. That didn’t happen and in retrospect I am very grateful. There are millions of blogs out there and in the Christian blogosphere you have to be exceptionally gifted as a writer to get onto the A list and build up following. I have no illusions about my writing abilities and that is why I will not give up my day (and night) job as a physician. Calorius is a better writer anyway and Gaius Columbus is far deeper.
In the Christian internet world, there are the A-list bloggers who get thousands of hits a day. They are gifted and thoughtful writers who post new articles almost daily. Another way to attract people is to be a National Enquirer gossip style Christian blog. Nothing feeds base human nature better than reading the mistakes and the alleged misdoings of people far more famous than you. Gee, you say, if that is what those guys are up to, I am not so bad myself. Then there is a third way of getting famous. Get into a blog war with a popular blogger and draw attention. You will get your nine minutes of fame and then fade away
Me? I am now very careful what I wish for. As I stated in a previous post I have become a frequent reader of some blogs but I seldom comment. I find that even if I am moved to comment, a short wait of about 3 hours and someone else will articulate my thoughts far better. The way I see it there are about 2374 people reading a popular blog all with an opinion yet only about 20 people will comment and it is often the usual suspects. They are regulars on almost every post and predictable. They sometimes add useful insight to the original post but not uncommonly they turn the post to a pet subject and occasionally start a word war with another regular commentator. What do the 2354 people do? I guess they read, they think, and then they move on. The probably say “No need getting in a huff over something I agree with or disagree with. This is just the internet.”
I want to be in that group or at its fringes so I will never comment elsewhere unless I feel I have something to say that edifies, a question to ask that clarifies a point or I think I need to engage someone and get him thinking about his ideas. On Gold Coast Bereans with its 8 or so readers, including friends and relatives, I am grateful for the obscurity because we may have written some incendiary stuff without realizing it and the last thing I want is to be a stumbling block to someone else’s faith in God. It is absolutely not necessary to start a cyber battle with someone 500 or more miles away as if I do not have enough conflict in my neighborhood. If I want any kind of a fight I can always bait my friendly next door neighbor, or better still bait my fellow contributors on this blog whom I know personally.
So I am happy with the status quo. If this blog gets “popular” (which is unlikely partly because we put up new posts infrequently) I don’t know if we will be able to answer all comments. Moreover, I have already lost some of my remaining innocence in the past six months of reading the Christian blogs and I want to keep what I have left. “Blessed are the pure in heart, because they shall see God”. I had read widely before I started visiting blogs but in the past six months I have learnt stuff about famous leaders of our Faith, men like Luther, Calvin and Finney, that I now wish I never knew- information of no benefit to me in my service to the Lord. One of my favorite preachers has been John MacArthur but after seeing that the most vicious of the Christian blogs perceive him as their pope (probably without his knowledge or permission) I do not worry so much anymore when I miss one of his broadcasts on my local radio station.
Recently against my better judgment, I commented on my favorite blog CERULEAN SANCTUM because the writer had written on a subject that was close to my heart too. I still would probably not have commented but another commenter brought up the minimum wage issue and it was shortly after the Senate had rejected the bill that had the first Federal minimum wage increase in 9 years so I went ahead and wrote a comment and also shared some thoughts and questions on the issue of believers in need which was the primary subject. This is part of what I wrote
In my church there is a weekly prayer bulletin and invariably each week, there is an individual asking for prayer for financial difficulty. How do you think we or an individual church member should respond to this? It is a fairly big church. I do pray about it but I feel I am doing the “be warmed and be fed” thing. The alternative is to seek out such a person, talk to the person and write a check. I understand why the church won’t do it because it may set a precedent. I can do it as an individual but where does it end? Then there are the usual thoughts I use to rationalize my inactivity- “I have my own responsibilities” ” what about all the needy in my own family” ” there are safety nets in this country” “you may not be helping the person by just giving him or her money” - this last one does not make sense actually
Not long after I received a spiritual rocket propelled grenade in the form of a Bible verse from another commenter complete with an angry smiley as follows
“I understand why the church won’t do it because it may set a precedent.”
Like this? “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” Acts 2:45-46, 4:34-35
That’s supposed to be precedent. Y’know? :/
Well I asked for it, didn’t I? If only I had read my Bible more carefully I would not have made that statement in my comment. Initially I wanted to respond to the commenter and remind him that not long after the great community example established in the early church, the Apostle Paul was writing in 2 Thessalonians 3:8-13 "On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right."
That would have been sending a bazooka of my own of little value to the discussion. But it is obvious that the situation about ownership of money and material possessions evolved even in the early church and we find Paul writing to Timothy and telling him “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
I decided my time was better spent applying these verses to my own wretched life and I am glad I did. There is an old Sunday school song we sang in Ghana “Read your Bible, pray everyday if you want to grow” It remains true. Read the good blogs only as an extra but don’t get too worked up over what people say, especially in the comment sections.
In the very popular blogs, even a cough by the writer draws comments. And when a writer really stickes his neck out on a personal matter it often results in blood letting. In the past week alone I have seen that happen on at least two blogs. And none of the protagonists in these Christian cyber wars between well intentioned brothers and sisters in the Lord ever comes off looking good. And our Lord is never glorified when it happens. It is a loose-loose situation. So I remain very careful what I wish for. I constantly pray that those who will read my words and our discussions will be challenged positively in some way, and encouraged as they live as pilgrims in his barren, complacent land. - Robbo.