I recently celebrated my seventh blogging anniversary and, like most of them, it passed without any mention because I never think about it until well after the fact. While cleaning out some things on my old site, I reflected on the vast number of people I’ve come into contact with over the past seven years. There are some who stopped by my site once, some who read for years and then left, and others I’ve known online for the full seven years.
Among them, I was considering the significant number of people who no longer blog or have substantially changed their blogging approach.
Legalism and Being Led by the Holy Spirit
One thing that I struggled with the first few years of blogging was the number of bloggers who spoke so strongly and with such authority about issues that I personally found challenging to make the same assertions. Women, many years my junior in most cases, wrote with such authority. They were dogmatic in their assertions. They belittled those who held different views. They deleted comments of those who didn’t agree with them. There was a definite chorus of women blogging with authority on matters that were secondary issues being made into primary issues.
As I was going through the list of the bloggers I could think of who fit this profile, it was striking to me the changes that have occurred.
- Some don’t blog at all.
- Some still blog but only mention theology in tangential ways and instead stick to stories about family and home.
- Some changed their views and stopped writing the dogma they no longer believed.
- Some still blog, but have gone from having a completely Christian blog to chasing a bigger audience that draws in a variety of readers beyond professing Christians and is therefore more financially profitable.
- Some still blog and are just as shrill in their condemnation of those who disagree with them.
- Some have sadly left the Christian faith altogether.
I always struggled with the fact that I didn’t feel the same boldness to assert This. Is. The. Truth. And. You. Must. Walk. In. It. To. Be. A. True. Christian. Part of it was the fact that I was coming out of a difficult and confusing theological time in which David and I had been bombarded on every side by manipulative people who dogmatically insisted that we were wrong about issues. We faced many “My way or the highway” moments with other Christians.
In every case, by the complete grace of God, we chose the highway. But after such experiences I struggled to even trust my own ability to read the Scriptures and understand them for myself. If you’ve ever gone through a time such as this, you will know what I mean.
Encouraging Others to Grow in Christ
Another part of my reluctance to blog “with authority” was the fact that I have a very healthy fear of leading others astray. I have no desire to burden others with theological ideas that are either untrue or place a yoke of legalism on them. And so I continued to raise the questions even as others wrote strongly and convincingly of hot topic and issues.
Over the past few months, God has been gracious to show me the fruit of these past few years. And He has once again shown why I pray so often for His restraining hand to protect me from making mistakes.
When I wrote the new little blurb for this site, I wrote:
My desire is to see people grow in Christ. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in each person’s life. To that end, I ask lots of questions here and regularly provide links to resources that I believe will challenge people to examine their faith. I don’t have all the answers, but I enjoy learning and sharpening my faith with others.
And I mean it with every fiber of my being. I do want to see people grow in Christ. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to work in each person’s life. I don’t have all the answers.
Encouraging Others to Follow the Holy Spirit
This all came together in a new way for me the past few weeks. I’ve been following many of the stories coming out about prominent pastors and other church leaders who have left a string of abuses and devastated believers. Celebrity pastors are, in my humble opinion, a scourge on the church that are causing untold problems that are only starting to come into the light. We have hundreds of thousands of people following celebrity Christians into harm and bondage rather than following Christ into freedom and joy. After a decade or more, the fruit is beginning to come forth.
When I was listening to Wade Burleson’s sermon on Hebrews 10 last Sunday on echurch at Wartburg, he said something that validated all my struggles in this area. Around the fifteen minute mark, Pastor Wade is telling the story of a woman who comes to him seeking counsel about what to do about a difficult situation. He asks her questions about the issue and encourages her to do what she believes the Holy Spirit has put upon her heart. He then says:
I don’t ever tell anybody what they should do. I empower people to hear the Spirit within.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And yet how many Christians are willing to let the Holy Spirit truly lead those around them? How many Christian leaders are willing to allow their congregations to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? Instead we have codes and laws and expectations that nearly crush people with the weight of it all.
And how many Christians really want to be led by the Holy Spirit? I mean, really truly want to be led by the Holy Spirit?
Frankly, many do not. It is evident by the number of Christians who are looking for a celebrity pastor or celebrity author to tell them what to do. People flock to seminars whether it is on parenting, homeschooling, living the Christian life, or the current topic du jour. They want a checklist. They want the four steps. They want the manual for how to correctly discipline their children so they will
follow Christ turn out perfectly. They want the guidelines for how to dress or eat or organize their lives.
They want to know they are Doing. It. Right.
They want to feel in control and having a checklist means feeling confident and in control.
Being led by the Holy Spirit? That seems downright scary.
Wait for the Spirit to move or speak to me or guide me? You mean I have to take a chance that I might not be discerning correctly? You mean I have to let go of my checklist and take the proverbial step of faith? You mean I might not feel in control?
Yes, that’s what I mean.
Do I do it perfectly? Of course not. Ever since the difficult time David and I went through, I have struggled to walk consistently with the Holy Spirit. I am still rooting out the bad theology even though I know better.
Parenting and Being Led By the Holy Spirit
It is my prayer to raise Caroline to be led by the Holy Spirit. How that will look and work out in the years ahead… I have no idea. I am trying to walk by the Holy Spirit myself in this regard and not follow the wisdom of man. There are days I desperately want to find a book or website that will tell me exactly what to do so I will Do. It. All. Right.
I read the websites of other Christian women who appear to Have. It. All. Together. and feel the temptation to envy them and their neat checklists of how they are raising Perfect Christian Children according to these Twenty Simple Steps. But I know that is not the way to parent Caroline.
Caroline (age 5) has professed no interest in Christ to this point. But one way we are attempting to prepare her for this is by not giving her a list of things people must do to be a good Christian. We are doing our best to not tell her that a good Christian will do A, B, and C. We try not to use legalistic language when we discuss decisions, situations, and the means of grace.
We are telling her that God loves her, God cares about the things in her life, and God will always help her if she asks. We talk about sin and why Jesus came. We try very hard to not make her perform so she will not believe that her value to us and to God is based on her performance. We are trying to walk by the Spirit as we parent.
It is my prayer that all of us will experience a fresh moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I hope we will all know the joy of seeing the Holy Spirit at work and that our faith will be strengthened and we will be emboldened for Christ because of it.