We live in an age that allows a lot of people to have a platform for promoting something, including themselves. Have you ever wondered how having a platform relates to Christianity?
In our world today, and particularly through social media, many people have developed a platform. For most, this platform has provided them to have a voice when otherwise their voice would not have been heard. In some cases, those voices have been helpful. In others, they have not been. Now, depending upon who you are and what you believe about any particular aspect of life, you may disagree on which voices are helpful and which are not, but we likely all agree that we have been encouraged and inspired by some voices and wish other voices were not heard.
But what about those in the space known as Christian?
Historically, some voices are well-known. Of course, we have the apostles, but a few of their voices rose above the others (e.g. how much do we know of Bartholomew?). Early church fathers such as Polycarp, Tertullian, Justin, and later Eusebius and Augustine are known. Much later we have Luther and Calvin followed still later by Edwards, Wesley, and then others such as Spurgeon, Moody, Graham, etc.
Today, we have a lot of voices which may be known to many, but only the test of time will reveal which voices last. In 100 years most of today’s voices (in all aspects of life) will be forgotten, but that does not change the opportunities we currently have.
In today’s world, more than ever, any person can publish a book. And more recently, blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and the like have elevated many people from obscurity. This certainly includes Christians. But, again, the question is: Is this wrong?
I am not asking hypothetically. After all, I am a pastor in a small town in rural Missouri. I am about 30 minutes from a WalMart and 1.5 hours from a city with at least 100,000 people. But in an age of internet connectivity, we can influence others from the busiest city in the world or from a small town half-way around the world. And the last three posts on this blog are more than suggestions about what I believe is next for me.
So, I ask again: Is it wrong for a Christian to have influence or to desire to have influence?
My answer: Absolutely not.
But the type of influence we have will be noted. And people will look to distort the truth we espouse and to point out where we are hypocrites.
But Jesus said to make disciples and that requires influence. Granted, the first disciples did not have the capacity to extend their influence worldwide as we do today. But the command was to make disciples of all nations (ethnicities). That is possible today with a click of a mouse or the launching of an app.
Peter had influence. Paul had influence. John had influence. And James (not the disciple who died in Acts 12, but Jesus’ brother) was apparently the leader of the early church in Jerusalem (see Acts 15). So, he had a tremendous amount of influence and, of course, wrote a letter because of it. These four men account for nearly all of the New Testament which has influenced countless millions (billions?) throughout history and continues to influence us today.
So, having a platform to influence others is not wrong. But the trick is not to abuse whatever platform we have.
Because to have a platform is temporary. It is an opportunity, but that opportunity comes from God and will be removed from all of us at some point.
The question then is: How will we steward the platform we have while God allows us the opportunity?
I will let you chew on that question for yourselves as I prepare to answer it for me in next week’s blog.
Until then, know that God does make some for common purposes and others for noble purposes, but all can serve Him if we will simply choose to do so.