I am a writer in America. That means something unique. As it has been put to me by a literary agent and many published articles about publishing, “If you want to be a writer, you have to have a platform or else no publisher will pay attention to you.” What do they mean by ‘platform’?
A platform is more or less a guarantee that a significant number of people know you and will buy what you write. A platform is built over time with much effort at marketing oneself or ones ‘brand’. Publishers want writers to have a platform so they know the money they invest will create a profit. That makes sense and doesn’t really bother me. The part that bothers me is the method many writers (more specifically Christian writers) use to obtain that platform.
I’m referring to those I named in my title; the “Flame Throwing Provocateurs.” There are many Christian writers who make a habit of provoking a reaction by igniting their flamethrowers with the fuel of controversial topics. You know the blog titles: ‘The Heresy of Calvinism’, ‘Armenians Deny the Gospel’, ‘Why Charismatics Don’t Like Doctrine’, ‘Dating is the Devil’s Deception’, and on.
Have you ever stopped to ask if titles like these and the content following them ever make God smile? Should we encourage deliberate provocation concerning controversial topics? I’m guilty of using some provocative titles as a writer – maybe the title I used for this blog is provocative to you. I’m learning that being provocative is not necessary a good thing – even if it does build a platform. More specifically, being provocative with topics that good men differ over is contrary to the spirit of several Scriptures I’ve been meditating on. Perhaps you’ll join me in meditating on these.
Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. 1 Thess. 4:9-12
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thess. 3:9-13
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:1-4
Notice the emphasis in each of these passages is that we lead a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands. The word that is translated ‘quiet’ in these passages is used many times in the New Testament and refers specifically to silence in reference to speech. In other words, God values quietness from His saints. He calls it ‘proper behavior’. He also values hard work. He doesn’t want us to be ‘in need’ nor to be ‘busybodies’. In the I Thessalonians passage this desire of God is preceded by a reminder to excel in love for one another.
If you are one of the firebrands who are seeking to build a platform on provocative diatribes; I invite you to dial it back. Perhaps you could emphasize love for your brothers, hard work, and leading a quiet life. If you did you may find your platform growing with peace loving believers who are trying hard to avoid the stress of controversies. Most of those controversial blog topics don’t affect their daily walk with Christ in any substantive way. It’s just noise – loud noise.
Peace, quiet, and hard work is what Paul encourages in these passages. Quiet, godly, dignified lives are good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. Paul suggests that living this kind of life actually leads to the salvation of some and the spread of the knowledge of the truth. Surprising what a little quietness can do, isn’t it?
When it comes to quietness of speech we should take warning from the Old Testament. The wisest man ever to have lived says this about speaking.
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Prov. 17:27
When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Prov. 10:19
Then back in the New Testament James says, ‘But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…’ James 1:19
I quote all these to lend support for what I believe God is getting at. I think it displeases God for men and women to throw verbal bombs into a crowded arena. The arena of ideas and teaching about the Bible in America is in many ways chaos. To make this worse by flame throwing is a grief.
I guess I should be quiet now and mind my own business.