The two spheres of the Christian Blogesphere

In my travels in the Christian blogesphere, I have noticed two distinct spheres of thought.

One sphere is focused mainly on the self.  All the things  that we should, or shouldn’t be doing . All the things that we should or shouldn’t be thinking, or feeling…lest we ‘do it wrong’.

A person on one blog was railing about how wine was from the devil and how we not drink anything fermented. Anything fermented was evil. I asked her about penicillin. If that was evil too?

People going back and forth worrying about what ‘we do’. What about this sin or that, what about saying this, or feeling that? All the focus on ‘the self’.

The other sphere was mainly focuse on God and what He has done, is doing, and will yet do… in answer to ‘what we have done’.

This sphere is quite a bit smaller than the other sphere.

People in this sphere seem to be a bit more at ease with themselves and the world around them. They seem to realize that so much of our doing is the problem and that the only real solution was the death on the cross of Christ Jesus and His forgiveness to us.

It was our ‘doing’ that got us into this messy situation that we now find ourselves…bound to sin.

It was ‘His doing’, and is ‘His doing’ that has, and will save us from ourselves, the world and the devil.

In it all, I find precious little grace and mercy given to sinners…real sinners, other than the grace and mercy given out by our Lord.

Can we not show some compassion here? Can we not give out a little bit of what we have received towards those who may not be doing it exactly how we think it ought be done? Would not our Lord want us to also be merciful, and compassionate?

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31 Responses

  1. “A person on one blog was railing about how wine was from the devil and how we not drink anything fermented”.

    Boy, would they have been angst with Jesus at the wedding at Cana!
    How many times does the religion of introspection have to give a wide birth when scripture, in no uncertain terms, talks about life ‘as it really is’, and then brings the reality of God’s grace INTO such circumstances.

    “I find precious little grace and mercy given to sinners…real sinners, other than the grace and mercy given out by our Lord”.

    It’s so true, and woe betide when we seek to put sharing that first above all else – even to one another, never mind the world. The censors of gospel liberty will be there in moments, telling us the countless reason why it cannot be so.
    This world needs to see the ‘rainbow’ of promise amidst the mire of a broken existence. Only we can bring such a sweet savor!

  2. There’s also the third kind of blog–yours, which is mostly just plain old dumb!!!!

    (NOTE: Once again I am breaking two things that I chose to give up for Lent on this very blog. 1. Posting on this blog; and 2) Giving Steve a hard time.)

    But I suppose I actually have something constructive to say, too. I don’t think it’s as simple as you made it out to be, Steve. While I totally understand what you’re saying, I think that there really is a lot that we’re told to do in the scriptures (e.g. read James). But it’s not about the “doing” or that we’re achieving anything. In fact, as you’ve pointed out quite gracefully, everything we could ever do that was any good was done FOR us on the cross by Christ. We are to proactively seek the creator…seek Christ. The more we get to know Him, the closer to Him that we are. It’s not a contest against our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s part of being a family and in a relationship. It’s not self centered to talk about the relationship we have with Christ because God is the one who made us personal and He sent His son to the earth in the form of a man.

    Your blog is great, Steve. Thanks for continually challenging the way we think about our lives as Christ followers.

  3. This reminds me very much of the sermon series we’ve had the past three weeks at my church.

    My pastor has been speaking about how we are adopted and how we have to understand how to heirs. How what we do does not affect the love that Christ has for us. This is especially important for me to grasp as I am definitely not perfect and my love for God definitely has room for improvement, but nonetheless he still loves me.

    I am having a hard time truly grasping that. I am still stuck in the “I suck” mindset.

  4. I appreciate the atmosphere on your blog, Steve, as well as our interactions on my site and others. With few exceptions, the exchanges are gracious and humble.

    I feel that in such an atmosphere, we are free to fervently yet safely disagree and find that we learn from each other in the process.

    From time to time I’ll visit secular blogs (or YouTube comments) and all I see is sarcasm and character assasination, and it can be even WORSE on some Christian blogs!

    So, yeah, I appreciate the fact that we can dialogue this way.

  5. Legalism is what you should do, and shouldn’t do. Christianity is a changing of the heart , so that your very desires are changed. Out of love of God and Love of neighbor you do not sin, in fact the thought of sin is abhorrent, and when [ not if ] we fall short we are motivated by the Holy Spirit to repent to God through the office of Christ.
    Legalists just do not get it.
    The law that was nailed to the cross seems to be the object of their worship, yet they add to it. Legislating morality works no better in our hearts than it does in our culture. Sanctification is a work of the Spirit. “Do it yourself ” will not work with sanctification or salvation.
    Old Adam, you are living what the Savior taught, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

  6. Yes, I remember the wonderful feeling of relief when I listened to Jackie Pullinger talking about mercy for those who fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, and fall, and fall…

  7. C S Lewis noted it so well-
    the Christian is some one who, after falling in the mud, is back on his feet, dusting himself off, and moving on…
    he or she will indeed fall again (and again), but that is not what matters,
    what matters is that GOD’s GRACE picks them up, and keeps picking them up, not leaving them in the mire.

  8. Howard,

    “The censors of gospel liberty will be there in moments, telling us the countless reason why it cannot be so.”

    Thanks be to God that He keeps us in His faith.

    Against all our reason, against all those condemning voices…we know we are truly loved and forgiven.

    In the Word and the sacraments, He makes sure that we know.

    Thanks Howard,

    – Steve

  9. Roger,

    “It’s not self centered to talk about the relationship we have with Christ because God is the one who made us personal and He sent His son to the earth in the form of a man.”

    What can I say? (don’t answer that)

    You have hit the nail on the head once again. “God is the One who made us personal.”

    If He makes us His children..who’s gonna argue with that? (other than everyone, at the devils behest – but pay them no mind)

    Thanks Roger!

    – Steve

  10. Hope,

    Your pastor is right on the money.

    “We have to learn how to be heirs.” To receive.

    The old man/woman does not want to believe it….that’s why we ALL have a hard time with it.

    We constantly want to add something to it. That’s why god’s law needs to constantly kill us off to the ‘doing’ project as it relates to our heirship (is that a word?).

    This is the battle, Hope. So stay in church, hear the Word of law and of promise, receive the sacrament of the altar and keep trusting that it is true!

    Thanks very much, Hope!

    – Steve

  11. Steve L.,

    Thanks for those gracious words.

    We try and keep it civil. We don’t want to back down from our deeply held convictions, but at the same time we realize that God is gracious and that we are not saved by our good doctrine.

    In this way we can be civil. We state what we believe to be the truth, what the bible tells us, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Then we go ‘rat hunting’.

    Those little bugers need to be taught that man has dominion over all the earth…and not them!!

    Thanks Steve!!

  12. Willohroots,

    “Legislating morality works no better in our hearts than it does in our culture. Sanctification is a work of the Spirit. “Do it yourself ” will not work with sanctification or salvation.”

    That is a mouthfull ! The Lord creates and He sustains and He kills.

    You mean He really is in charge of this place?

    Good thoughts, Willohroots!

  13. broapocalypse,

    Thanks for stopping by Broapocalypse!

    This is why salvation is not a one shot deal. it is a relationship wherein the sinner keeps sinning and needs continual forgiveness.

    St. Paul says, “For those of us WHO ARE BEING SAVED.”

    That doesn’t sound like that was “a long time ago when I accepted Jesus”, to me.

    Being saved is, as you say, over and over, and over again.

    Great point, Broapocalypse! Thanks!

    – Steve

  14. I think it is a little like a tug-of-war. It’s really hard to step away from the rope and let Jesus be the Victor! It’s almost as if we have this inbuilt desire to finish, even though Scripture informs us that ‘It is Finished!’
    The harder we go at it, the harder it gets, until we end up cussin’ and swearing and falling down. Then we go right on a get to it again, instead of letting Jesus take over. It’s and inborn idiot!!!

  15. Broapocalypse,

    Exactly!

    Taht is why I named this blog ‘the old Adam lives!’

    He refuses to let go! The old Adam will not die of his own volition. He needs to be killed off and killed off often.

    That’s why I believe the Lord instituted Baptism and the Lord’s Supper .

    So He (Jesus) could kill off this idiot within us, again and again and again…until we are laid to rest for the last time… and raised with Christ…for the last time.

    Good thoughts Bro!

    – Steve

  16. Broapocalypse,

    I went to your site,
    http://www.geocities.com/aerycksmusic/

    you’ve got some pretty awesome music over there.

    You are a very talented guy!

    I look forward to perusing and listening over there from time to time.

    Thanks!

    – Steve

  17. Will,
    You have given me a great picture. I wish I had thought of it yesterday. I was preaching the passage from 1 Cor. 3-4 and talking about building on the foundation of Jesus Christ and the fact that we can’t do that on our own effort and planning. In Christian living there can be no “do-it-yourselfers.” But many preachers have created a Christian “Home Depot” complete with the “you can do it, God can help” mentality.
    I feel a blog post coming on. 🙂

  18. Thanks Steve. I was just about to add a feed to your blog.

    That is some smart thinking about the two ordinances. Bravo!

    While I was on holiday, some years ago, at a very fine setting in Groevlei; I decided to study the book of Galatians. I have subsequently done so many times. The Lord’s apostle was a fine writer. lol.

  19. I am with you here. The question we need to ask ourselves is … do we sometimes get too comfortable in our own skin (or our own sin ;-).

    I sometimes feel, in an effort, to subdue or minimize what God is working on I hang on to anything and everything to resist what God is leading me to do.

    My old adam lives…. even in my undying focus on grace and mercy. However, a focus on grace and mercy has led me to a certainty about many things. An ability to laugh at myself because I am not at all unlike any other Christian out there is one of many.

    “there are no sins I have committed that are not common to man” — said in scripture somewhere 1Cor?

    The idea of having a righteoussness from “being” in Christ has been an important focus for me since it gets me out of the vicious, selfish, pathological Christian behavior based on moral performance

    Phil 3
    8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

    I really liked the words of not having a righteoussness of my own that COMES FROM THE LAW……….. thats what people that have the moral performance mindsets do …. they pursue their own righteoussness. We almost can’t help ourselves because we need strive always to find our worth and rightness in something other than the righteoussness we have by faith in Christ.

  20. Jon,

    “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

    I wonder…is that a reference to what happens in baptism? A counter to the realities of the old Adam that lives? A counter to our moral performance and striving for a righteousness of our own making (or, the law)?

    Great thoughts, Jon!

    Thank you!

  21. Broapocalypse,

    Yep, that book of Galatians is some might fine writing, indeed! St. Paul makes for a mighty fine pen for the Lord!

    If you ever get the chance, read Luther’s commentary on Galatians.

    Arguably his best work.

    I’ll put a link to your site on ‘the old Adam lives!’ blog roll.

    [ Anyone else reading this, if you’d also like a link to your sight, just remind me and I’ll do it for you.]

    kepp up the good work, Eric!

    – Steve

  22. I would consider it more of a reference to the Cross…. However, in baptism it says to do this in remembrance of Christ and what happened on the Cross…. 8-).

  23. “I would consider it more of a reference to the Cross…. However, in baptism it says to do this in remembrance of Christ and what happened on the Cross…. 8-).”

    Jon,

    When you get a few extra moments and re-read Romans 6.

    Let me know if that sounds like “remembering” or something actually happening TO YOU.

    Thanks, Jon! 😀

  24. i dont know if im in either of these..

  25. Graceshaker,

    Hey! There’s an idea!

    The ‘Church of the Third Sphere’ !

    😀

  26. if i had a sphere itd prolly be broken and really dirty.

  27. Sounds like the church to me!

  28. Well, maybe not REALLY DIRTY…a little dirty.

    But white as snow because of Christ.

    There…that’s better.

  29. This blog on cognition, culture, and computer programming identifies two modes of thinking that are analogous to your two spheres of christian blogging. “Mapping” is akin to the visionary, reflective stream of christian thought; “Packing” is a lower-order level of simple procedure-based thinking.

    Packers have a whole proceduralised culture that provides behavioural tramlines for just about everything. It’s so complete you don’t even notice it until you solve a problem perfectly effectively one day, by a method that’s not on the list. It might be trivial.. Mappers hardly ever get the upper hand on these cultural issues, but when it does happen it can be hilarious. A packer gave a dinner party and it so happened that over half of the guests were mapper types, IT workers and others. The host pulled a pile of warm plates from the oven, and started handing them to the guy on his left.”Just pass them around!”, he cried cheerfully. Everything went well until he realised he needed to shout “Stop!” [everyone was just passing plates around randomly in an endless loop!] Mappers don’t have a general cultural context to learn from, so we are almost entirely self taught.

  30. oops missed the link.. its The Programmers Stone

  31. Ropata,

    Thanks for the great explanation of “mappers” and “Packers”!

    And the link to the Programmer’s Stone.

    I’m looking forward to checking it out!

    Thanks!

    – Steve

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