One of my super cool Christian friends recently offered me some ministry advice: "I think you need to be a little more edgy in the way you communicate. I mean you want to reach our generation, don't you? Your current writing style is not going to get you very far. I kind of stopped reading your stuff a while back because . . . well it's boring, Matt. It's just Bible, Bible, Bible. What if you just loosened it up a bit by throwing in a cuss word here and there?"
I wasn't shocked. She wasn't the first cool millennial to encourage me to be a bit more spunky in the way I write about the gospel, and she won't be the last. I've been told my writing ministry would be so much more effective if I would quit being so serious and inject more of my personality and humor into my articles.
Maybe I'm just in denial (like really, I might be) but I don't think my writing style is all that stiff or void of my personality. Is my tone often on the serious side? Sure. My conscience won't let me write flippantly about the weightiest realities in the Universe! But that doesn't mean I totally check my personality at the door. I may not crack a joke in every paragraph or slip in curse words between Bible verses, but I try to tastefully incorporate my humor into almost everything I write. Sometimes I'm even criticized for being too informal!
Why is it, though, that so many Christians in my generation feel like our presentation of the gospel should always be saturated with personality and spunk? Why must our communication of biblical truth always be jam-packed with witty humor? Why do they moan and complain about a plain and clear delivery of the gospel, calling it boring and ineffective?
I don't want to step into the "judgment zone" because I can't know what's going on in their hearts. But I do think, based on what sometimes goes on in my heart, that part of the issue could be that their spiritual taste buds have grown dull. They may find biblical truth flavorless and feel like they have to season it up with fleshly spice to maintain their own interest and to attract the interest of others.
The vast majority of my friends who call me to a higher level of "cool communication" have been saturated in church culture their entire lives. They've been exposed to biblical truth on a daily basis since their birth into the Bible Belt. And though there are enormous blessings in being in such close proximity to the gospel for so long, there are also dangers — like allowing ourselves to become "too familiar" with it.
Most of my super-hip Christian friends don't read the Bible regularly. Why? They say they've already got it down.
"I know what the Bible teaches, Matt. I've been in church my whole life," they tell me — and I get what they're saying. I've read the Bible cover to cover probably 20-30 times since I became a Christian six years ago. I know what it teaches. However, it has been my personal experience that when I fail to intentionally confront my mind with the awesome realities described in the Bible, my heart quickly becomes dull to their awesomeness.
The apostle Paul taught that spiritual life is ignited through hearing or reading the word of the gospel (Romans 10: 17). I think it logically follows that spiritual life is nurtured and strengthened through hearing or reading the word of the gospel. And I believe that line of thinking fits perfectly with the apostle Peter's instructions to his already converted readers to "pay attention to [the Word] as a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19). What I believe Peter is saying here is that intentionally setting our minds on the gospel message described in the Scriptures will, over time, enhance our spiritual capacities to see and savor God's glory.
When I don't regularly open the Bible and gaze into the reality it illustrates, my ability to see and be moved by the beauty of God weakens. My heart is no longer stirred by great and ultimate truths. I no longer find myself in awe of the gospel, and when I hear it communicated plainly and clearly — well, it bores me. If this is what happens to me after just a week or two of not zeroing my mind in on the Word, how much worse must be the condition of those who have gone years without regularly doing so? What might happen if these believers realized they needed to be reminded daily of the things they already know to be true? What might happen if they regularly meditated on the Word again and allowed the Holy Spirit to refresh their vision of Jesus?
They would see the beauty of God in the gospel and no longer feel a constant need to supplement it with fleshly "coolness" — that's what would happen.
I'm not at all trying to say that being funny and being innovative (within godly limits) are bad things that should have no place in our presentation of the biblical truth. Some people are naturally "cool" — as currently defined by our culture — and I don't think those people need to shut down their personality in order to effectively minister the gospel!
All I'm saying is that no one will be saved or built up in the faith by seeing our glory in our big personalities. They need to see the glory of Jesus in the gospel, and our job is to present that gospel to them over and over again until God "shines in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." – 2 Corinthians 4:6.
Originally posted at moorematt.org.