Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Avoiding the Perils of the Popularity Gospel

All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own?
— OSWALD CHAMBERS (1874–1917)
So there we sit on our computers at night,
‘Liking’ and ‘sharing’ and ‘commenting’ away,
We do all this thinking that it’s right,
When we may be using time a better way.
My purpose is not to judge or condemn,
But merely to challenge to see if it’s true,
Are we blaspheming Christ’s requiem?
The popularity gospel we may come to rue.
Yes, I know, as I’m reminded by my wife, I’m part of it. Doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it, though. The popularity gospel – the preaching of the Word ‘in competition’ with others over social media (for, there are so many people wanting a greater reach, and then there’s dilution of effectiveness with more voices, etc) – is something that the enemy has a field day with. I’ve had my own varying experiences of both trying to maximise my reach and decry the success or otherwise of others. I’m ashamed to say it.
The quote of Chambers’ above should send shockwaves of fear and trembling through us – it should. In my view, those who read Chambers’ words and receive due admonishment are the true believers.
But we can have a foot in both camps – fearing God yet plying our trade in a popularity gospel market.
Whatever we build today better have the purest of meanings – and who can say that in all (sin-embodied) sincerity? – for there is coming a burning, and a Judgment.
I am scared. For, I know that, whilst I serve over this monster mechanism of social media, and I do so for God’s purposes, I also know there is ego attached to it. I know that I want to be read, for the glory of God; but many times I’m still discouraged when there aren’t the “likes” or the “shares” or the “comments” I feel are due. What I’m saying is I grapple with this, and am tested, not every day, but certainly every week. God is refining me and weaning me of my need for appreciation, acknowledgement, kudos, etc, but it is a challenge between flesh and Spirit.
I sometimes would prefer not to have the gift I have. It would be easier. But there are times when God fills the void between him and me, simply because I’ve obediently portrayed his heart. Such heights of blessing are not possible from the world. To feel this way is enough. Yet, my flesh seeks more.
I keep coming back to the piercing scrutiny of an old mentor’s challenge: “Steve, what’s your motive? You need to ask yourself over and over, ‘What’s my motive?’”
Lord, in your sight, and you know this, my motives are not always very pure. No matter how much I loathe the popularity gospel because you do, I get sucked into it; it nourishes my lack of you but it’s really unfulfilling. Why do I seek what I cannot get when I could get everything from you?
Help me I ask, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
As I search myself regarding the motives for what I do here, the Holy Spirit ushers the question into my psyche, “What Serves God? – Do That!” “Keep it simple – Serve God.”
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

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