Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

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.

3 Comments:

Blogger Calorius said...

Robbo has gone all soft and mushy. This tone of talk should be reserved for end-of-life reflections, not robust young men like Robbo. Robbo sounds almost despondent.
Liven up.
The lack of vibrant activity on this blog doesn't reflect negatively at all. I agree with Robbo's analysis of why other blogs are so active, but in addition, i would suggest that blogs which started early are more busy. Blogs are like pyramidal schemes: they have a life cycle and a pace. And their content, membership, etc (their number, age, typing skills, jobs etc)all affect how much they do.

Good things are usually not popular. And only good things endure. Ultimately, only the words of Jesus will endure in the literary world, even after earth and even heaven have passed away.

By the way, talking about popularity and life cycles, methinks the da Vinci blur is already fizzling out. It survived as long as the next hollywood craze.

So Robbo, lift up your heart and cheer. It may be that this blog will grow slowly and endure longer than others. Or it may not. Either way, I am happy for a place to share and learn from deep thinkers, solid Christians that I respect deeply. There is no substitute for that.


By the way; why do we need passwords and registration for this blog. I always have to go find mine because at my age it is hard to remember.

Maybe that hinders the casual blogger from joining our conversation. Personally, I wouldn't mind "gatecrashers"; I think we can hold our own.

Calorius.

September 10, 2006 at 10:04 PM  
Blogger Dan Edelen said...

Robbo,

I'm sorry if you had a bad experience on my blog. The commenters at Cerulean Sanctum are usually very civil compared with some other blogs, but even then I do bring up a lightning rod issue that divides people.

To your question about the balance between charity and working:

Many people who work very hard make very little money. Others sit in a chair all day and seem to mint it right and left. God will hold us all accountable for how we work and how we earn money.

But to your question, David Fitch in his book The Great Giveaway has an excellent chapter on finances and justice within the Church. I think that chapter is excellent even if he demonizes capitalism a tad too much.

In that chapter, Fitch proposes that it is not up to individuals to attack injustice, but the local church body as a whole. I think what he writes there is very sound, He recommends a benevolence team who weighs requests and probes an need further, asking hard questions of those who seek assistance. Not only that, he tends to tie receiving that assistance into becoming a part of the church body.

Interesting ideas and wise. I would recommend you read the book. I am halfway through it and what he writes echoes many of the topics I've discussed on Cerulean Sanctum.

Blessings.

(Oh, and a word on blog traffic: It's true--the earlier you started, the more likely your blog will have more readers. People who have gotten in the last year or so have a hard row to hoe to get noticed. I'll put a link on Cerulean Sanctum for Gold Coast Bereans. I hope that helps some!)

September 11, 2006 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Robbo said...

Dan Edelen,

Thanks again for stopping by here. I will certainly get the book you suggested.

After I read your Reality Series posts, I felt very strongly that it was wrong for a local church to almost mandate a tithe from its members and faithfully collect the 10 % and more from faithful families and individuals and yet when these "fully paid up members" got into unexpected difficulty, the best we can do is to put their requests in a prayer bulletin. Especially if a new multi-million dollar building is rising on church property.

We are obligated as a community to "weigh requests,probe further and ask all the hard questions" and at the end of it all do the right thing and not leave it to the whims of individuals.

And a big thank you for linking us. I always know I have to be very responsible (to the Highest Authority)with what we post here. All the same, being linked on one of the most respected Christian blogs carries with it a new level of expectation and responsiblity.

-Raymond

September 11, 2006 at 3:23 PM  

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