What Kind of Online Culture Are We Cultivating?
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. --Proverbs 27:2
Something tells me it wouldn't cut it for Carson's NSBT series, but someone needs to develop a biblical theology of marketing and advertisement.
Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are fantastic tools with unprecedented potential for strategic, efficient kingdom instrumentality. A pastor in Scotland can write a blog post and within seconds a believer in India can read that post and be strengthened.
But as Peter Parker's Uncle Ben would remind us, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' And the amount of self-foregrounding that takes place on these media--by Christians--by pastors--is troubling. Promotion of our own books, letting everyone know where we've been and whom we've met, drawing attention to what others are saying of us--how easily we Corinthianize and employ the world's mindset for ostensibly kingdom purposes.
What are we doing, brothers? I am asking myself no less than you.
What if we made up our minds to refuse to quietly electronically parade whatever accomplishments the Lord grants? What if we let the Lord decide who knows of us and what we've done? What if every post, tweet, and FB update was passed through the fine filter of Matthew 23:12?
What are we of? What's driving us? Is this how true faith acts, faith in a God who one day 'will disclose the purposes of the heart' (1 Cor. 4:5)?
'Get a life, Dane. Quit the alarmism. I'm just trying to spread the gospel by alerting others to resources. Is it really a problem if that includes some of my own stuff?'
Maybe. Maybe not. That's between you and the Lord. There is certainly some gray in this conversation, it's not all black and white; there's room for wisdom here, not simplistic rules. And I have in mind individual 'marketing'; corporate marketing is, I think, in another category. But as far as your own personal online presence, why not determine to honor the Lord by getting up each day, keeping your hand to the plow, and letting him sort out who knows about you and what you've done? When you're unsure as to whether or not something is self-promoting, why not err on the side of blessed obscurity, to which God loves to draw near?
We are increasingly cultivating an online evangelical culture of self-projection. Trying our hardest, of course, not to look like we're self-promoting. This is not where God's power lies.