As more of us go into isolation with only WiFi to connect us to the outside world, we’re all going to be consuming more stuff online: sports, film, news. If you’ve ever dipped a toe into the Christian blogosphere you’ll know there are no shortage of people and ministries posting their thoughts online.
This is huge blessing, especially at a time like this. Blogs can never replace our Bibles, but the Bible is best understood in community, firstly within our churches and secondly with Christians from other times and places. Our screens give us a window into the thoughts and lives of believers all over the world. We can benefit from their reflections on the Christian life and be helped by their responses to the Coronavirus crisis.
But how can we read discerningly? If you’re anything like me, you’ll be so used to consuming online content that you don’t even think to ask the question.
Discernment is a skill we need to understand and live according to God’s word (Proverbs 1:5). Discernment is the process of separating what is true from what is false. In an age when information is just a click away, we risk drowning unless we have discernment.
A few thoughts to help us read discerningly:
The Christian Blogger is mixed They’re a Spirit-filled yet flawed human being, so we expect their words to be mixed. Plenty that’s written will be true and good, but some will be flawed. Like the weighing of prophecy in the church (1 Cor 14:29), the blogger’s words must be weighed carefully against the Word of God. So we ask, to what extent do the writer’s ideas flow from the specific teachings and general principles given us in the Bible? Where the Bible is quoted is it mere proof-texting, or does the meaning flow from the context?
The Christian Blogger is a stranger Even if the article in question has been posted on Desiring God or as one of Scott’s Daily Trio, we still need to weigh up what is written. Why? Because the writer is likely to be a stranger to London, CCM and your life. Truth is truth but truth applied to life may look very different in Texas compared to Tufnell Park.
The Discerning Reader seeks change Probably the biggest challenge for us all as readers is the temptation to endlessly scroll, be grabbed by a headline, skim read the first paragraph and repeat. But unless we pause and reflect, we’ll never be changed by it. Like trying to drink water from a sieve, aimless scrolling is a pointless exercise.
The Discerning Reader is selective and attentive Recognising that there is an abundance of Christians blogging, the discerning reader may choose to ignore much of it for the sake of digesting what they read. And fighting the temptation to habitually scroll, the discerning reader is attentive to what God is teaching them through the reflections of others. So far as the blogger’s message accords with the truth, the discerning reader asks, ‘what does the Lord want me to think, feel or do differently?’
Lastly, because discernment drives us from abstract truth to concrete realities, the discerning reader takes lessons learned online into the real world. Discernment leads us to find out what is best (Phil 1:10) and drives us towards change. The discerning reader might turn from their screen, pick up a pen and write a note of what they have learned.
So, enjoy whatever extra time you have in this season to read, digest and apply Christian blogs. Read discerningly and pray that God might press His truth all the more into your heart.