SOUND-BITE SLOGANS THAT AREN’T SOUND
SOUND-BITE SLOGANS THAT AREN’T SOUND
We live in a “technology age” which has much to offer – but also has its drawbacks. For example, the “social media” craze and its “sound-bite” way of saying things has resulted, I believe, in a shorter attention span in many people. If something requires a great deal of thought or study, many people just “tune out.” While that might work in some areas, it is a complete disaster when it comes to learning Divine truth! We must “give attention” and “be diligent” in matters that pertain to God’s word (1Tm.4:12-16; 2Tm.2:15).
Sadly, this inattention to study may have affected some preachers of the gospel. To their credit, many young preachers are “into” Facebook, Twitter, and other such sites. They’re trying to reach an audience that communicates in a manner different from us “old fogies.” But in the attempt to reach them in their element, the true message of the gospel can be diluted or even lost. And, while I do not doubt the sincerity of some, the gospel message cannot always be reduced to “feel-good sound-bites.” When this is done, the truth too often suffers. No one should know this better than our preaching brethren, who devote themselves to finding effective ways to reach others with truth.
To be specific, I have been reading some “sound-bites” which are either incomplete, if not explained further – or just flat-out error! For instance, I once read sound-bite that went something like this: “Focus on Christ, not commands.” Frankly, that sends a very disturbing message, because you cannot separate these two things, and treat them as if they were opposites! Now I am well aware of the fact that we are not saved by perfect obedience (1Jn.1:7-9). But you cannot “focus on Christ” without focusing on His teaching, which includes COMMANDS that we must keep (study carefully Mt.28:18-20). Truth is not served when obedience is minimized. Indeed, one is made to wonder why the Lord gave so many commands if we are not supposed to focus on them!
Another example is the renewed attempt to pit Jesus against religion. A while back, I saw a sound-bite which read something like this: “I hate religion; but I sure do love Jesus!” Now that’s a sound-bite slogan to be sure – and one which completely obscures the truth. Yes, there are FALSE religions, which do indeed stand in contrast to Jesus. But the word of Jesus teaches us to practice “pure and undefiled religion” (Jm.1:27). To pit Jesus against religion (per se) in a sound-bite slogan sends the wrong message, period! Such statements simply cannot stand alone, but must be carefully defined and explained – in a Biblical manner. I hasten to add that, when you finally get around to defining and explaining such statements, you may find that your “sound-bite” needs serious revision, because it is misleading at best – and often, just flat wrong!
Brethren, I am all for reaching out to the young with the gospel. And anyone who knows me knows that I love simplicity in preaching. But there is a big difference between simple and simplistic! We must not throw out the baby of truth with the bathwater of tradition. I urge wisdom when confronting tradition. A tradition is not wrong, per se! It may well be rooted in Scripture (cf. 2Th.2:15). Further, years of experience may have found that a certain way of doing God’s will may be best – even if it’s not “carved in stone.”
But I also think there is another problem brewing here. Sometimes young preachers “discover” some “new” truth for the first time, and then determine to “straighten out the brotherhood” before they’ve fully thought through all of the ramifications of how to teach what they’ve learned. The fact is, there is nothing new under the sun; and the truth you think you have discovered has been preached by faithful brethren for years. Don’t let your pride get the better of you. Growth in knowledge is a wonderful thing; but it can puff us up (cf. 1Cor.8:1-2). A good dose of humility is always in order – and yes, that includes me! I have certainly made my share of poorly-thought-out remarks in teaching. I am thankful for those who patiently taught me, rather than try to humiliate me.
So, if there are brethren who have misconceptions about some Bible truths (and I believe there are), nothing is gained by simply ridiculing their “ignorance” and “love of tradition.” The solution is PATIENT TEACHING (study carefully 2Tm.2:24-26). Rather than merely ridiculing them, help them to see the principles of truth that are at stake. LEAD THEM, RATHER THAN DRIVE THEM, TO A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF TRUTH. The one thing I want to say to my preaching brethren is this: Let us not forget our real business, which is to STUDY; then to patiently TEACH. And above all, to make sure that what we teach is Divine TRUTH! (2Tm.4:1-5)