Image by Redeemer Fellowship
We tend to take the easy road. The one that’s quicker, easier, and microwaved. And that’s not all so bad with a lot of things. Emails are much faster than letters. Cell phones are much faster and more efficient than landlines. Buying a book on Kindle is faster and cheaper than buying a physical copy and paying for shipping.
But when it comes to theology, don’t do it. Becoming a parrot is much easier than becoming a theologian. But it’s not helpful for the Church. And in the long run, it will leave you intellectually and theologically paralyzed.
At points in my life, I’ve felt pigeonholed into giving the right answer, quoting the right author, and listening to the right preachers. Learn to think, talk, and write like the good guys. Sure, I was encouraged to read the other writers/pastors, but just so I would know their side of the argument.
But we need to think for ourselves. Read. Study. Listen. And arrive at our own conclusions…not just haphazardly arrive at the same conclusions as the popular conservative, conference-speaking, book-writing pastors of our day. Because we can read the Bible for ourselves. And we can think for ourselves. And we can develop theology ourselves.* We don’t have to consult other men and women when we are articulating our theology. And when we consult them in place of thinking for ourselves, we miss out on a great benefit of study: discovery.
God still speaks
Call me crazy, but I still think that God speaks today, and He’s not just speaking to the popular pastors. He’s speaking to me. And you. And all other believers.
Standing on the shoulders of giants is different than standing behind them yelling, “Yeah…what he said!” Standing on the shoulders of giants means that we learn and grow from those who have gone before us. Standing on their shoulders means we don’t simply lay hold of their conclusions…the ones it took them years to arrive at. That borders on intellectual thievery.
Most people tend to take the easy way out. When it comes to theology, don’t short-circuit the work on God in your heart.
Have you ever been lulled into taking the easy way out when it comes to understanding the things of God?
Disagree with me? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss it!
*Hear me correctly: I’m not trying to divorce myself from our church fathers. There’s a depth and richness to their writing that’s difficult to find today. And there’s great wisdom in learning from those who have gone before us, and who are continuing to presently pave the way. I’m just not linking myself so tightly with them that I can’t use the brain that God has given me to actually do what it was intended to do. Think!
In your ministry and leadership, do you merely copy others?
Recently, there has been a bit of competition raised right outside of our office building. Little Caeser’s Pizza has just moved in, and they’re offering “$5 Hot-N-Ready” pizza. They even offer a drive-thru window! Simply drive up, tell them what kind of pizza(s) you want, and they give them to you, ready-to-go, on the spot. Two doors down from Little Caeser’s there is a Domino’s Pizza. It’s been there for a number of years, and seems to have experienced a reasonabe level of succes (at least based on the frequency that their delivery cars are coming and going). They do what they’re good at: making their pizzas and delivering them. Little Caeser’s is doing what they’re good at: making pizzas that you pick up instantly. Is one right and the other wrong?
Soon after Little Caeser’s opened, Domino’s began offering a “$4.99 Ready To Go” pizza. Sounds like a rip-off to me.
Some churches look at other churches throughout the country, notice a reasonable amount of success, and try to duplicate that. Sorry, but it doesn’t quite work that way. You are called to minister the Gospel to your people in your community. Just because Saddleback does small group this certain way and it works in southern California doesn’t mean that you need to do it the exact same way and expect the same results in rural Idaho. Just because Louie Giglio preaches a certain way and has success doing it doesn’t mean that you need to copy him. John Piper has been wildly successful, but duplicating what he does (style, mannerisms, inflections, verbage, etc.) is unwise and ensures no level of success. Going through the same small group curriculum that the Smiths used and loved doesn’t mean that that’s what you should do. Maybe you should use the same material…or maybe you should look for a curriculum that helps to shepherd your group where they are at spiritually at this point in time.
Be creative. Think differently. Lead in the way that God has gifted you. Don’t just copy what others are doing.
I believe that Twitter is a good thing. I’ve been using it for over a year now, and have found many great uses for it. As some of you may know, John Piper is one of my favorite pastors and authors. He’s written a great post on why he is beginning to Twitter. Read it below. Does this convince you to use Twitter, if you don’t already?
Why and How I Am Tweeting
I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.
Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.
Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.
That’s my general disposition toward media.
Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”
To which I respond:
The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.
So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.
I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.
By his grace and for his glory,
© Desiring God
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