A Litmus Test for Bloggers: Are You Trusting the Right Teachers?
Yesterday our pastor taught on I Corinthians 13, and I can’t stop thinking about how it applies to the Christian blogosphere.
Paul tells us that it’s possible to demonstrate intense spiritual gifts, deep theological knowledge, faith that initiates miracles, and even selfless service—but if we aren’t operating out of love, all our religious activity is worthless.
That’s a shocking claim, if you think about it.
But what is “love”? Paul doesn’t leave any question here. His instruction is specific-- offering 16 action verbs that show us (for sure) whether we are walking in love.
I’ve converted those sixteen verbs to a litmus test for Christian bloggers. I’m hoping to read through this list a lot this year as a writer.
I’m also planning on using this list to help me decide where to put my trust as a reader. Who do I follow? Who is guiding my heart and soul away from love? Who should I stop reading?
If I’m regularly filling my heart and mind with writers who defy love’s fundamental principles, I’m going to be led away from the powerhouse of the gospel—no matter how much I agree with their causes.
Even if I think Christianity is facing serious threats (and it is), Paul says I can’t produce lasting, effective results as a responder if I don’t move out of love’s essential truth—so this stuff isn’t peripheral. It’s core. It’s non-negotiable.
If you don’t feel convicted reading this, you’re further down the path of Christian maturity than I am. I make some of these mistakes weekly. But as I think about what might actually heal what’s broken the church, I also see a lot of critical information here.
So, take a big breath before you start reading. My heart was pounding with a need to confess and change by the time I finished this post. But it was a hopeful sort of conviction—the sort that feels right down in my bones.
1. Is this blogger patient? Does she have a long spirit?
Does she have endurance when life is hard? Does she use her gift of language to try to avenge herself and her causes? Is she eager to punish those who disagree with her?
2. Is this blogger kind?
Does this blogger ride the waves of the hostile emotions of our time, or does she value quiet, benevolent responses?
3. Does this blogger show signs of envy?
Does she accuse others of “just being jealous?” in an attempt to invalidate them? (How we accuse others can reveal a lot about our own state of mind.) Does she have a competitive, “us vs. them” posture? Does she try to climb ladders?
4. Is his blogger boastful?
Does she write with a dismissive swagger? Does she operate with a posture of expertise when she is either drawing unsubstantiated conclusions or repeating propaganda from others?
5. Is this blogger arrogant?
Does she write without first listening? Does she draw quick assumptions or categorize others recklessly? What spirit do most of her supporters demonstrate in their comments? Do they roar and belittle?
6. Is this blogger rude?
The Bible seems to allow for stern exhortation and correction, and yet Paul tells us not to be rude. Is this blogger offering hard truth with sincerity or is she being ugly? Does she call others names? Has she built platform by cheap insults?
7. Does this blogger insist on her own way?
Does she fly off the handle when she doesn’t get what she wants?
8. Is this blogger irritable?
Does she pop into other threads with smart aleck, dehumanizing, or belittling comments? Does she imitate the impatient, reactive spirit of our age?
9. Is this blogger resentful?
Does she operate out of a personal wound? Is her driving impetus an active, open desire for revenge? Has she learned to engage with the injustices of her past with trust, or is she still raw and hostile?
10. Does this blogger rejoice at wrongdoing?
If one of her ideological opponents is embarrassed or attacked, does this blogger seem to enjoy it? Does she laugh or cheer when someone “on her team” is cruel to someone she opposes? Does she forward or support the forwarding of cruel memes?
11. Does this blogger rejoice at the truth?
Does she love what is true so much that when she finds out that she has been wrong, she is eager to grow and change?
12. Does this blogger bear all things?
Has this blogger endured at least some form of injustice without immediately blogging about it? Has she huddled in private with Jesus for a season without exposing all her raw wounds to the world? Or, does this blogger rush to social media, quickly tweeting or posting about every new offense?
13. Does this blogger believe all things?
How does this blogger handle doubt? Is she humble and honest about her doubts while maintaining a general spirit of faith, or does she feel like she is doing the culture a favor by constantly expressing cynicism? Does she affiliate intelligence with the deconstruction of meta and micro narratives?
14. Does this blogger hope all things?
Does this blogger radiate joy and confidence, expecting good things to come from God?
15. Does this blogger endure all things?
Is this blogger willing to persevere patiently? Does she stay inside of a long-term trial while trusting God to provide, or does she freak out and feel entitled to relief?
16. Does this blogger love without ceasing?
Has the cynicism and disappointment of Christian culture soured this blogger until she expresses fury and outrage more powerfully than grace?