Because we are in love with ourselves, we like smooth words. We like clever words. We like funny words. Often this means we do not choose truthful words. Hard words? No. Demanding words? Rarely. Those who had a contempt for the trite, fluffy words…the homespun, “simplistic” devotionals of the 60s through the 80s…now embrace the edgy, revolutionary boldness of today’s writers with their modern brashness.
I’m finding there is a trend in the blogosphere. Writers who are popular (even among Christian bloggers…no, I will not name names) are soft. Sometimes harshly so, brandishing a scrap of truth in a seemingly bold manner, but not according to the whole counsel of God. A shard of gleaming scripture, buried in silk. They write happy thoughts, soothing thoughts, entertaining thoughts. Some strive to be so unique in their expression of truth that all it does is cause confusion.
Recently I’ve read things by prominent women which are borderline suggestive, sometimes using the shock factor of language that is questionable or illustrations that would make one blush if told face to face. Throw in a dash of quirky humor, a smattering of irony, a particularly clever turn of phrase, and there is a certain thrill appeal of reading something sort of…forbidden. The word God is in there somewhere, or spiritual ideas are suggested somehow, so it is readily accepted as Christian material, and the conscience is put at ease…or to sleep.
What has happened to us? I’m not saying modern is wrong. Elisabeth Elliot once said that she believes every generation has its own writers, who pen the words of truth in the day’s vernacular and with fresh perspective. I embrace that. What I do not snuggle up to is this fleshly appeal…feeling the need to hook readers with sensation and sensuality in order to drive home truth. It seems so many today are looking for edifying material with the appeal of a romance novel. Have we really become that shallow, that we need this sort of pandering to keep our attention? Remember the WWJD campaign of the 90’s? I assure you, it is not this.
Our spiritual depth is not gauged by “the feels”…and I am so glad. My feelings can change in the span of five minutes. I need something more than my own emotional evaluation of things if I’m going to thrive in this over-the-top-with-special-effects generation. I need scripture to shape my thoughts and formulate my method of evaluation. I do not need my preferences, inclinations, and sensibilities to control my thinking. So often my logic is flawed. Frequently my assessment (otherwise known as “following my heart”) is wrong. (Prov 3:5,6)
Knowing. What unchangeable truth do I know? That is where my confidence must be tethered, anchored, founded. I must know His promises and cleave to them. I must strive to know Him…I know myself all too well.
This is why I love to read the old, dead guys. They lived in a time when death was an influence, not just an inconvenience. They saw it, touched it, sat by it, dressed it, mourned it, buried it with their own hands. It was not as sterile as it is today. Because “life is a vapor” was very up-close and personal to them, it influenced their writing with an urgency and unbridled proclamation of gospel truth. No emotional appeal…just discernment put into words that automatically dissected the heart with Spirit power. No need for hooks.
I read much of today’s stuff and it just makes me want to clamor for something “dusty”. I feel like I’ve had a whole box of Twinkies. I feel full and sick at the same time…and not at all satisfied, because my nourishment has not been healthful.
I say all of this in love, and with a vigilance for the message of my Savior, who is both perfect love and perfect truth. Read excellent stuff. Choose the top shelf. There will come a day…perhaps soon…when we will all wish we’d spent more time investing in our minds rather than merely entertaining them.
“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil 1:9-11