Bro, you’re not Charles Spurgeon. I love ya; we all love ya; and we all love ol’ Charles. But, you’re not him, and you’re not called to be him. Not him, not Calvin, Luther, Whitefield, Owen, Tozer, Bunyan, Edwards, Knox, Ryle, or any of the awesome, historical, rich, old dead wise guys.
We all love them. We all love you. But, you’re not them.
The reason I have to point this out is that you keep quoting them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The problem is not that you’re quoting Spurgeon in and of itself. The problem is you’re quoting the fiery darts of excerpts from Spurgeon’s sermons and writings without the context of the full gospel within the full works.
You’re blasting these truths out without the vital context of building the orphanages in your city, the abundant financial support of cross-cultural missions, or the loving and difficult stances at great costs to yourself against issues such as slavery in your society.
You may even argue that you are doing some of these, and if so, that’s awesome! What I’m saying though, is that even if you are building an orphanage in your city, we don’t see that through your Twitter.
The other crucial part of the gospel — the love that gives us life after the love that shows us the grave we’re in — it is missing.
I know, I saw you tweet that quote about salvation: “Electing love has selected some of the worst to be made the best. Worthless dross he transforms into pure gold.” – Spurgeon
The thing is, I fear it most likely only sounds good to you and me. Though the message is solid, the tone and word choice is still foreign, harsh, prickly, and possibly insulting to anyone who doesn’t already understand it.
The Problem Could Be Our Tone
I promise you my wish is not to be overly critical here. I’m actually quite proud of your passion for reading and understanding these historical giants. Their insights and understandings are phenomenal! I just don’t know that we can make our society see that by merely quoting bits from them on social media though.
Know this though, I’ve been where you are — probably worse! I can remember, when I started walking daily with Jesus, being so troubled by people’s sin that I’d be angry!
Part of it, I believe, was that I truly felt they were willfully hurting others. Part of it was I sorrowfully knew they were hurting themselves. Part of it, I soberly reflect, was that I was mad because their sin was still tempting to me, and I was angry with them for tempting me with their foolishness.
So, I felt justified to blast people, especially the college students I was around most at the time, with nuggets of truth and conviction in hopes that they’d “see the light” and respond.
Unfortunately though, the only response I usually received was a loyal following of “retweeters” (both online and offline) that were no better than myself, and a royal unfollowing and distrusting of all who were hurting, timid, enslaved, or not already infatuated with Christ as they should be.
I can’t really imagine I was helping anyone!
Also, I grew up in a home with parents who rode horseback through mountains, following cattle in horrible storms, living in cabins, farming and ranching for food and profit. Tough bodied, tough-minded folks. It’s even common in my family to say things bluntly, pointedly, harshly, and even raise your voice, and then to work together or even laugh together shortly after it. Nobody ever felt as though they weren’t loved. For real.
Then, I got married to someone from a family in which confrontation is the enemy and niceness is ultimate goodness. Whoa!
Though my wife is brilliant and hungry for sure, hard truth. I quickly learned that tone is powerful and often more effective than words — perceived easily but forgotten with difficulty.
Tone, alone, despite all the great words of truth and wisdom in the world, can push people away and do more to damage your cause then any eloquent word choice can do in favor of it.
While learning this personally unnatural truth, I too was tweeting, posting and subliminally boasting of all my education, insights, and perceptive powers of reason. I was blasting people God’s truth and my following was growing quickly.
As we began building the TMM Twitter account, we began to realize something though: People responded best to words of encouragement, empowerment, promises, peace, joy, and reminders of God’s goodness and grace to them.
If that statement makes your eyebrows furrow, you need to understand something…
We Are Not Called To Convict, Only Encourage
Though I knew the idea that “God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance” (Rom 2:4), it was hard for me to accept this to be applicable to my own tone and actions as well. It was simply more gratifying to be tweeting fiery arrows of knowledge and eloquent speech. After all, it was gospel truth, right?
What God began to show me was that the world is already so full of condescension, condemnation, competition, jealousy, hurt and hate, along with an enemy actively warring against and seeking to condemn their souls, that the last thing they need is for the ambassadors of the king of hope and purpose and love and life to add to it — or even much of anything that sounds like it!
They need to hear of hope, purpose, love, and abundant life!
No, I’m not talking Joel Olsteen style silliness — that’s not the full gospel and doesn’t ultimately help anyone at all either.
I’m simply saying, the world already provides such an ample amount of discouragement, that we really should be spending most of our efforts on upping the ratio of true and lasting encouragement and certainty that only the true gospel goodness of Jesus can provide!
At the very least, you’d surely agree they should feel as though we want to care about them and be their friend; that our savior is good, gives joy, and satisfies us deeply with enough abundance for all; and , that he can do the same for them. They should not feel that we and Jesus are so frustrated we’d rather have a debate or a fist fight with them than die for them.
Unfortunately, too many of us, if judged by our social media, neither look like we want to nor even could be a friend to a person who doesn’t know Jesus yet!
Besides the obvious positive responses from people when I changed the messages and tones coming out of the megaphones of social media at my disposal, here’s what has really brought this home for me:
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him [Jesus]. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:17-19)
These were Jesus’s words to began his official ministry — how he first launched his campaign! The God of the universe, living as one of us in our world, his first “tweet” was, “God has given me his Spirit to proclaim good news, freedom, healing, and favor! I’m here for the hurting, sick, and oppressed.”
Of course, this isn’t the full gospel by itself, and so of course Jesus did much more than this. However, this was his declared purpose!
Incase you still want to mistake the implications of this, my charge for you is this: Find one place in scripture where you’re told it’s your job to convict anyone.
We are only ever told that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict (John 16:8-10), and yet over and over we are told it is our role to encourage one another and share our hope. (Rom 14:19, 15:1-13, 1 Thes 5:9-11, Heb 3:13, 10:24-25, Eph 4:12; 16, Eph 5:15-21, 1 Cor 8:1; 10:23; 14-26, Col 4:5-6; 3:16, 1 Peter 3:15; 5:5 …and more, but you get it!)
There is no denying this. This must affect everything about our most used words and our most used tone and our most spent time and energy.
It may even mean we need to get off of social media until we learn to think differently (i.e. rightly) about this. I’ve done it. There’s no shame in this.
Any boy can shout pithy, difficult theological statements. Let’s help each other be men who whisper words of encouragement and empowerment found through life in Christ. Maybe God will even then teach us to shout them effectively.
This is much harder, takes more humility, more time, more concern, and gives less glory to ourselves, but I think, given your excellent theology, that you’d agree it’s worth it, right?
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Col 4:5-6)