I should maybe make a “Rant” category for my blog posts. Sorry this got a bit long. . .
In my post about the Parable of the Talents, I mentioned how the Master handed over a large investment to his servants without a lot of direction and then left them to it. No micro-management = huge risk. How would things turn out?
Now, I’m not saying that God doesn’t give us lots of direction and guidance in our lives – I think he does. But I think that when it comes to the gifts, interests and callings he has given us, he also allows a lot of freedom in how we end up expressing and using these gifts. We have to risk figuring it out on our own without a micro-manager telling us each step. I think it’s partly how God helps us learn to trust him more.
This started me thinking about how uncomfortable we can be with figuring things out for ourselves . . . and allowing others to do the same. I read a lot of blogs by Christian speakers/authors/pastors around the country. And I just wonder: are we trying to take Master’s place in other’s lives? Are we trying to micro-manage how they use their talents? In the absence of explicit direction, are we policing everyone around us to make sure that they’re using their gifts correctly and following their callings in the right way? Are we so consumed with right thinking that instead of giving others the grace and freedom to risk (and perhaps get things wrong!), we have to tear apart their work and actions and words at every opportunity to test for doctrinal soundness?
I’m not suggesting that we don’t test what we hear and be discerning about the teaching we absorb, but I am concerned about why are we so eager to pick people’s words and actions apart and prove them wrong. It seems like a lot of “correction” I see taking place isn’t polite disagreement over errors but personal attack. It smacks of pride and insecurity rolled into one.
If you’re wondering about some examples, here are just a couple that come to mind:
– Mark Driscoll’s Real Marriage book recently came out with the usual stir of controversy. In a recent interview he questioned the interviewer’s wife spiritual capabilities as a pastor, using personal comparison. This inspired a round of upset blog posts. I wonder why Driscoll felt the need to say what he did, and also question why so many bloggers felt compelled to respond.
– Tim Tebow’s and his outspoken faith on the football field. There have been quite a few differing opinions in the Christian world about if and how Tim Tebow should be sharing his faith the way he does and whether this is helpful or harmful to the public at large. We’re not in his shoes, why are we all so busy trying to determine if he’s walking well?
– The Jesus Hates Religion video that went viral on Facebook this past week. While it inspired plenty of people, it also inspired several blog posts showing what was wrong with it.
While some blogs do an admirable job of responding well, many of us seem to forget that humans deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – even (and maybe especially) humans we disagree with.
Still – so much response makes me wonder if it’s all necessary? Are we really worried about the effects on the readers/viewers/listeners or do we just want to be right? Do we really think everyone else around us is less smart, less discerning, less able than us to discern what is wheat and what is chaff? Discernment and wisdom yes, but character assassination so easily sneaks in as hard as we can try to tackle only the “issues.” At what point do we cross the line from helpfully adding to the conversation to just adding fuel to a virulent fire?
It seems like it’s too easy for us to be so busy questioning everyone else’s ability to hear God, that we don’t focus on simply trying to hear him for ourselves. We’re so busy defending God, that we aren’t listening to him. We rarely acknowledge that we’re all practicing faith, which means lots of mistakes, attempts, backtracks, relearning, repeating. Who knows if the first servant who doubled his money actually lost a good chunk in first attempts and only figured out how to get it back as he went along? Do we assume he just perfectly executed a plan to double his money with no failure? How many of us truly understand what we believe until we put it into action? We grow in our depth of understanding and experience as we go along, and especially when we have to learn from mistakes. Doesn’t this hone our perspective and discernment?
Yes – there is a need for loving correction of bad theology and yes, we certainly need to be on guard about false teachers who are purposely misleading people. But God is bigger than our mistakes. This is something I keep taking to heart as I write. I’m sure my theology isn’t perfect and I worry that I’ll interpret something wrong and experience the same scathing rebuttals I tend to see all around the blogosphere. But if we’re going to walk the path, we’re going to have to be willing to make mistakes. I want to read more stories about people stepping out unsure, but trusting – I want to see more affirmation of risk and growth. I want to hear about all the amazing work people are doing in this world, instead of all the critique. Can we quit the micro-management of others that we seem to easily get addicted to?