The Internet is at its best when it brings together like-minded people who can combine forces and create something great. I don’t know about you, but I never want to live in a world where flash mobs don’t exist again. The downside is when like-minded people become parrots, echoing the thoughts and concerns of a few leaders of their tribes. Still, this is understandable and on some level, unavoidable. It seems like the way that people express their sense of belonging to a particular community, in an internet age, is by tweeting and updating and blogging their responses to whatever topic or event or controversy that has controlled the day’s news cycle.
Think, as a broad example, about Osama bin Laden’s death. When he died just about everyone in America with a Facebook account felt the need to comment, which was our way of participating in a significant world event, but unfortunately it came across to other parts of the world as triumphalistic and bloodthirsty.
So in the Christian world, in North America anyway, when Rob Bell or John Piper or Mark Driscoll or Brian McLaren says something, people in their tribes or people who define themselves as the anti-tribe of that particular person, feel like they need to express their thoughts in as many social media forums as possible.
Here’s my thought. The reason that those people have the media power that they have is twofold: 1. They have followers, and enemies, who hang on their words and comment on whatever they say, and second and more importantly for this post: 2. Those leaders are out there pursuing their own callings and caring about what they care about, rather than mostly commenting on what other people care about.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be the person that is trying to find what it is that I truly care about, rather than borrowing from the passions of others or worse, trying to discredit their passions because I haven’t found my own.
And here is my encouragement to all of you (and myself): care about what you care about. And if you deeply care about the issues that are being raised by the power-players out there, then give it all you’ve got. But if you don’t, and you find yourself commenting on those topics mostly because you feel like you should, then think about letting them go. It doesn’t make you less of a person; it’s actually make you a unique person, trying to pursue what God has put in front of you. That’s the beautiful nature of God’s diverse kingdom.
Pay attention to the “shoulds” that keep sounding in your brain, because odds are, they’re not authentic. Gordon Smith in a terrific book called Courage and Calling talks about those instances when we “overhear” the calling of another person. It’s when you come across someone who is passionate about something – whether it’s urban ministry or church planting or the local food movement or preaching or music – and you feel like it should be something you are devoting your life to. Those are all noble callings, all reflections of the glory of God, but it might not be your calling.
I think this happens for a lot of people when they spend time with pastors. A pastor is out there teaching the Word and caring for those in pain and gathering a missional community, and people feel like if they’re not passionate about those things then they are not truly passionate about the gospel. But that is the pastor’s calling and it may not be yours. And that’s okay. Could you imagine a church that was full of pastors? It would be skewed, narrow, and well, weird. And that’s why our churches must encourage all the gifts of the Spirit and not just a few.
Care about what you care about friends. For all our sakes.