I am a Christian who blogs… I am not a Christian blogger.
I am a Christian who hosts a podcast… I am not a Christian podcaster.
I am a Christian who plays Yahtzee… I am not a Christian Yahtzee player.
I am… well you get the point.
I am sorry if it seems like I am speaking out of turn here… but I am a digital disciple who does not get what “Christian New Media” is.
Last week a number of my friends attended the Christian New Media Awards / Conference. For some of my friends it was a chance to meet up with other online friends… and fair play to that! During the awards some good people (e.g. Vicky Beecham) and some great ideas (e.g. YouVersion) received well deserved recognition… and kudos to them for that… but I continue to struggle with the term “Christian New Media”.
Please hear me out… and before you say it… I am not bitter because I was not there or did not win… I guess you need to be “in it to win it” and I am certainly not “in” whatever it is that I need to be in to participate. That said… it would have been awesome to meet up with all the folks I interact with… folks like Johnny Laird, Jonny Rose, Simon Cutmore and Will Taylor.
The thing is… I am a follower of Jesus who thinks the world needs my fellow followers to be in this world but not of it… and I think exclusivity is of the world… just as I think greed, jealously, hatred and violence are “of the world” too. I think “Christian New Media” is an exclusive term.
Again… I am the first to admit I am a hypocrite… with my Apple this and my “bleeding edge” that. Being a neophile who loves to be on the cusp of the next cool “thing” is something I continually fight with… and being someone with a small semblance of a disposable income I can buy things that others only aspire to… so, yes, I get exclusivity. Afterall, listening to bands no one else has heard of is something I take pleasure in.
The thing is… I do not think exclusivity is part of the way of Jesus. I see it more in the Pharisees’ camp.
To me… I see a Jesus who welcomed lepers… disgraced women… tax collectors… political radicals… even the hated Romans. He was not in the business of shunning anyone… He sought to answer the Pharisees’ questions even though they were being massive pains in the bum to Him.
So why then do we continue with our “bubbles”?
Exclusivity is the world of winners and losers… and people who judge who wins and who loses.
Look at the X Factor, for example. People seeking to win… trying to gain acceptance through the opinions of others… happily being judged by an elite group who are happy to judge… as the crowd bays for blood. It tries to tell us what we should want while keeping the elite… those with a vested interest… in gainful employment. I do not like the X Factor… you may have gathered that?
I do not see Jesus in the exclusive. I do not see Him blocking Himself off from those around Him… albeit He did jump in a boat to escape the crowds. He was not about winners and losers… maybe I am naive but I think He wanted us all to win.
Calling yourself a Christian “whatever” is not serving Jesus, in my humble opinion, because it puts an instant barrier up to people who are not followers of Him. It says “I am different from you” and “you must come to me on my terms”… before a connection can be made. They should not have to come… we should go to them!
Surely we should be seen to be different through our love… known to be different through our inclusive love for ALL God’s children… and not because of what we claim we are?
Our actions, afterall, speak louder and clearer than words. As digital disciples are we “out there” living lives of love and sharing the good news loudly and clearly through our actions, interactions, and reactions… as well as our words? If not, why not?
This post is not designed to offend… and I, for one, see the irony of my mumping about folks being “of the world but not in it” on an exclusively Christian website… but I share my thoughts with you… the participants in the Big Bible community… people who can make a real difference in this world.
I long for the Kingdom of God in the here and now… and I can not see that happening as long as we keep almost exclusively to our “Holy Huddles” and “safe places”.
After all… we need to be “in it to win it”.
Editor’s Note: This post continues a few discussions we’ve had on Twitter/Facebook.. it would be interesting to see other’s perceptions of the awards/conference (where were open to all), which are intended to encourage, inspire and equip in a world where many still don’t see the relevance of “new/digital media” … and the wider topic that Thomas has raised here…