OK, be honest. How many of you clicked the link just to see the heresy car wreck? You’re thinking, “There is no way he is actually going to compare his blog writing to the inspired Scripture and inspiring words of the Apostle Paul. Is he?!?” Sorry to disappoint (or happy to disappoint as the case may be), I will not be going down the heretical road, equating my blog posts to the Bible and starting a cult worshiping lion door knobs. However, I do think an apparent disparity in Paul’s writing and speaking can teach us something.
The church at Corinth had some troublemakers who tried to stir up strive against Paul. One of their criticisms of him was that he was “timid” when he was there, but he was “bold” in his letters. (2 Cor. 10:1) Paul was using different methods to deal with the problems faced by the church at Corinth. While he was there, the Apostle seems to have spoken, intentionally, in a restrained, even weak, way. (1 Cor. 2:1-5) His critics and enemies there used that as a means to cause division, which Paul had to deal with.
I find myself in Paul’s company there. I’m not inspired by God as an Apostle. My writing is not Paul’s. Shocking, I know. But I can relate to being timid in person and bold on paper. Those that know me, know I’m not a very confrontational person naturally. I usually avoid controversy and try to find common ground because opposing sides. Except when I write.
I’ve heard professional wrestlers describe their in-ring persona as themselves but cranked up. I understand that. My writing is that way for me. It’s me, but it’s me turned to 11. I hold positions much more stridently and aggressively. I go after those who disagree with me much more efficiently and intentionally.
This is not a new thing. I usually don’t get in trouble for what I say, but man can I get in trouble for what I write. As a writer for my college paper (at a Christian school mind you), I received several threats of physical violence for stories I wrote and columns I penned.
My campus claim to fame was my bi-weekly sports column, Sports Smackdown, where I expressed my opinions in a very forthright manner. That column won a South Carolina Collegiate Press Award, a Baptist Press Award and the ire of many on campus. One of my greatest accomplishments came in the form of the yearly reader poll. When asked to grade certain segments of the paper as “Most Favorite” to “Least Favorite,” the readers consistently scored mine in both categories. There was not much room for middle ground.
My blog writing has turned a few heads and caused some problems for me along the way as well. But those are stories for another day and another time. Only one example of my getting in trouble per blog post.
The difference between my writing and my personal interaction is the removal of my inhibitions. I feel much more free to express myself in writing than in speaking. Here is where I differ, in a large way, from the Apostle Paul. His difference was intentional for the sake of the Gospel. My difference is unintentional for the sake of my comfort and personality.
We all have areas where we find it much easier to share our true feelings or to share the Gospel. Some find it easy to walk up to a stranger on the street and share Christ, while they are terrified to tell their best friend about Jesus. Many people feel no fear in putting Scripture on their Facebook status, but would never interject a verse in their everyday conversation. Me? I can be a prophet of the pen, but a sheep of the speech.
Regardless of our own personal comfort zones, we must share the Gospel and let Christ infiltrate every area of our life. Paul was being intentional in speaking softly in person and being more forceful in his letters, both of those were for the sake of the Gospel in the life of the Corinthian church. It had little, if anything, to do with who he was personally and what he felt like doing.
Paul adjusted his style of communication and his means of communicating to find the best possible way to communicate effectively the truth of the Gospel. If that meant being bold in his letters and more reserved in person, he would do that. If it meant the opposite, Paul could be and was at times very forceful when speaking. Changes were all for the sake of Christ, not personal ease.
Earlier this week, I wrote about examining culture for how best to present the Gospel. We also have to examine ourselves and find the areas where we struggle sharing Christ. Just because I may write about the Gospel well, does not mean that I have a pass to avoid speaking it. Just because you may speak it well, does not mean you should not live it. The Gospel must pervade every aspect of our life, every facet of who we are.
I’m saying this as forcefully as I know how, just don’t ask me to repeat it to you verbally in person. That would be much more difficult.