The rumblings continue. While I’m wrestling with giants over the issues with social media, I’ve come across some readings in the Bible which seem to be helping me through.
You know I’m tired of and resistant to the self-promotion and narcissism prolific in social media streams today. I prefer to be offline in God’s glorious natural world. I’m passionate about Jesus and his fame in the earth. How does anyone reconcile these three things in today’s world, and in my current communications job?
Themes that continue to resurface for me are integrity, authenticity, humility, passion for God’s glory (ie, please Him). Themes that resurface as I read online about blogging and marketing are give readers what they want, numbers/analytics, monetising, offer your expertise, digital product. I’m still learning about all this and open to hearing these ‘online experts’, but one thing I don’t want to eject along the way is some clear understanding of who I am and what my core non-negotiable values are.
Here’s the risk: having all the popularity and following, but losing God’s favour. I’ve been reading through 1 Samuel recently, and Saul got in quite a pickle (Brit understatement) over who called the shots, and ultimately who to obey. Saul defeated the Amalekites, but failed to kill all as God had commanded. By yielding once more to public opinion, he kept back some of the best stuff, and wangled round the infraction by trying to offer it as a sacrifice to God. Saul forgot who he was and where he had come from.
17 Samuel said [to Saul], “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the Lord anointed you king over Israel, 18 and the Lord sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ 19 Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of the Lord?”
20 Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of the Lord…21 But the people… (full story here in 1 Samuel 15)
By contrast, there was another attitude in play at the time – a lad dressed not in ‘best practice’ but in authenticity and humility, and confident in the God whose fame he seeks to promote:
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine…
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied… the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (More in 1 Samuel 17)
His confidence was not misplaced. Soon it became evident that God was backing this other young lad – not schooled as a soldier, but nevertheless trained in the backwaters of sheep-tending as a warrior. He did not obsess about being followed, but only about following God and seeking his glory. Saul’s envy overspills:
…when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out … singing and dancing… and said,“Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
8 Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands.” 1 Samuel 18.6-10
[Are we getting like this about our analytics?]
Jesus himself was tested on this same point of conflict, and resisted selling his soul for popularity and power:
8 Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” Matthew 4. 8-10, Deuteronomy 6:13
There it is, simply put – one passion, one purpose.
So if you see any Saul-like, insecure, compromising flimmyflamming on this blog, tell me… we’re all in the same battle with this stuff, and need to watch each others’ backs. God help us to be ruthless with the pride, brutal with our envy, and concerned about only One Person’s opinion.
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