We have all been to blogs that want to make us spit nails. Sometimes, it’s because the content makes us mad. Other times, the blogger makes us mad. In my work of pastoral ministry, I encourage people to adopt a set of ground rules that governs how folks communicate with each other. I think it makes a good foundation for rules for Christian blogging, too.
Rule #1: There is only one agenda on our blog: God’s.
We draw this from 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” I would suggest that no matter the topic at hand, God has something to say to us or through us. We cannot assume that our blogs are places where we may write untethered from this reality. No one knows just who will read our posts or when; perhaps we might reach into the heart and soul of a person who previously was hardened against the message of repentance and faith. Who knows? We cannot blog as if it is our own sovereign universe, free for us to do with as we will. No, brothers, our blogs belong to Him.
Rule #2: On our blogs, we will assume no harm about those with whom we differ.
We are an opinionated lot. I do not need to belabor the essential need that we maintain our positions of truth and grace in this world that crumbles around us. As we have rehearsed in our own communion before, the “parties” present in our church, the commitments to doctrine, piety and cultural engagement are essential. Since we’re a bunch of strong-willed, fire-brands, it is inevitable that we will get sideways with each other. Nevermind that, Christ has wrought our union with Him and with each other (John 17:22) and that means that neither you nor I need to be preeminently concerned about making sure we’re right to the expense of each other. If I’m one with you, and you’re one with me, then there is far more we have in common than we do not. Therefore, you are far more likely to act for my good, than for my ill. So, I will assume no harm with you until I have to.
Rule #3: We will not give the darkest interpretation on events, comments or actions of others on our blogs. When it looks like we would be justified in assuming the worst, we will work hard to find another interpretation.
Of course this is related to the others. In our blogs, as we journal publicly, are we truly justified in darkly interpreting the words and works of another who confesses faith in the same Lord? We must exhaust our efforts to find interpretations to words and works of brothers that would leave our unity intact and their reputations unsullied. This means our blogs might taste like vanilla ice cream rather than Rocky Road, but the desserts in heaven are far better anyway. Work harder, brothers, in finding ways to give the benefit of the doubt.
Rule #4: On our blogs, we will assume that our greatest enemy is within us, the sin that we must yet mortify, rather than those things external to us.
We lose sight of the tentacles of sin in our thoughts, words and deeds. Like spending a week at the beach in the sun produces a rich tan – on the top. How many of us are surprised by the fish-belly white of our obscured and covered parts? You can’t be tan all over. We cannot think that we’ve mastered the influence of the kingdom of self in our lives. The depths of darkness are long and unknown. Are we not better served by thinking that our blogs are steeped in self rather than God? Wouldn’t that force us to measure our words and govern our writings? Our denominational commitments to cultural exegesis for the purpose of the preaching and the application of the gospel has a dark underside: pride and contempt for those who disagree. No matter the “party” this is always a possibility.
Rule #5: Since we are human and lacking in perspicuity with each other, we will assume we don’t know the facts or motivations until we ask.
You’ve read blogs where there are charitable exchanges of viewpoints. One writer will blog anticipating another will respond and so it happens that in the end there is a winsome and safe and brotherly result. (I remember reading something like this between Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchividjian.) Brothers, we don’t ask because we don’t care. We don’t ask because we want to be correct. We don’t ask by and large because we’re pathetically in love with our own reputations. We love the kingdom of self. The problem with the kingdom of self is that all others become servants there. Chances are you’re a poor servant in my kingdom; you will need instruction, rebuke, chastisement and even punishment to get it right in my kingdom. In my kingdom, I know everything about you – or so I think. Wrong. I know nothing about you until I ask you. On our blogs, before we stake out territory that we earnestly believe needs to be marked and defended at the expense of others, we must know and so we must ask. Brothers, we truly just don’t know until we do.
Rule #6: We will adopt the Golden Rule of Blogging: we will blog about people like we’d want to be blogged about.
Lastly, I’m quick (typically) to poke someone in the eye and call it “standing for truth” or “just rebuke” or “saving them from the pit.” Perhaps. I’m quicker to lash out at someone when I get poked for all the same reasons. Let’s make a deal: I’ll blog however I want, and you blog however I want. Sound OK? Um, no. I suggest instead that I blog how YOU want, and you blog how I want. I would say this is Philippians 2:3-4 applied to the blogosphere.
In the end, ground rules like these will be guard rails that can keep us focused on the right things. If cyberspace has introduced anything, it is the temptation to establish public mini-kingdoms where we operate independently from authority thinking and writing what is best in our own minds. If we press on into new technological territory for Christ, we can’t (and shouldn’t) leave Him behind.