"Is that the verses you're using for your theatrical reading/story telling, oops, I mean sermon on Wednesday night?"
To begin with, please allow me to point out that proper grammar for this bit of anonymous criticism would have been, "Are those the verses," not "Is that the verses." Be that as it may, this gem of civility was posted as a comment under a recent tweet of mine. Here is that tweet, in its entirety:
"John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
That's it. That was the entire tweet.
Every day of my life, I start my interaction with the world by posting a passage of Scripture to all of my social-media accounts. Facebook, Twitter, Parler, Gab, Gettr, USA Life, Linkedin, Clouthub, all of them get God's words before they ever get mine each day. On some of those platforms, that and a quote from one of my books is the only thing I post all day long.
Having been active on social media for many years now, I suppose I should no longer be surprised by how much of a cesspool the discourse can be. Especially on platforms like Twitter that allow people to hide behind fake names and profile pictures, people who would never have the courage to engage in a face-to-face confrontation with anyone feel as powerful as the Incredible Hulk who somehow became worthy of wielding Thor's hammer while wearing Iron Man's armor protected by Captain America's shield. It is a fairly sick paradigm — and it goes a long way toward poisoning public discourse.
When the above-mentioned snark bomb showed up under my tweet, I was disappointed at how surprised I was. By now, I should know that Scripture greatly offends some people. This particular critic — I will call him/her/they "Fluffy Muff" rather than by his/her/their real fake Twitter name so as not to give him/her/them any publicity that could increase their current amount of followers from seven to eight — has, among other things, a clear problem with how I read the Bible.
I read the Bible "theatrically," yes. I really can't help it; I don't even have to try; I have just always done it that way. When I read 1 Samuel 17, I make Goliath sound like Goliath rather than like Alexander Scourby. For this, I clearly must apologize; Scripture ought to be read in as boring a manner as possible in order to make it more enjoyable to everyone, obviously.
Fluffy Muff is right about me in his/her/their second point as well; I often preach messages the way they are written in Scripture, meaning in story form. For instance, Esther and Ruth are actual historical stories and very cool ones at that. When I preach from those books, rather than parse and pontificate, I read the text and then tell the story and then apply it. And though people sit on the edge of their seats and hang on every word in messages like that, I do apologize for offending the sensibilities of Fluffy Muff and others like him/her/they in so doing.
Not all of my messages are in story form since not all of the Bible is in story form. Much of my preaching is a verse-by-verse exposition of Bible books in their entirety, and many of those Bible books are thoroughly doctrinal and didactic in nature. And on Wednesday nights, were Fluffy Muff ever to tune in to our live broadcast, he/she/they would have, for the past seven years, heard me teaching and preaching through the life of Christ in chronological order passage by passage.
There is a point to all of this. It is tempting to give in to the hissing of modern Emperor Palpatines as they cackle, "Yes, feel the power come over to the dark side of public discourse! Put on a mask and fight back!" But all of us, especially believers in Christ, must avoid that at all costs. In 2 Corinthians 4:2, Paul said, "But [we] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty."
It would be so nice to give in to the lure of craven cowardice, open our own fake profiles and fight fire with fire. But Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 that we would one day give an account for every idle word, and hiding behind a fake profile will not keep that from happening.
So here is my advice for any believer on social media. One, never dive in the stupid end. When you encounter a troll, do not dignify their cowardice with a response; mute them and move on. That way, they can still see the truth that you post without you having to see the drivel they respond with. Two, never lower yourself to their level. Have your real name and your real picture on what you do; it is an excellent check against letting your flesh do your online talking.
You are supposed to be a Christian everywhere, and that includes online.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@ cbc-web.org.