I love watching a good ventriloquist. Ventriloquists can get away with saying almost anything as long as the dummy is the one doing the talking. Have you noticed this?! I even catch myself thinking, “that guy seems really nice, but his puppet sure is rude!” Then I have to remind myself that I’m the dummy! The ventriloquist is really the one saying those things!
A few weeks ago I had an idea for a new blog, If Jesus Calls… Hang Up, which is written from the perspective of a demon advising people on how to avoid God. The purpose, of course, is for people to recognize how to draw closer to the Lord by disregarding the demon’s advice to the contrary. Similar to The Screwtape Letters, it employs a sarcastic, quirky, reverse psychology. It’s been a challenge to write from a different perspective than my own, and very thought provoking to ponder situations from a different angle than usual.
On the surface, it seemed like a great idea. But upon further reflection, I’ve set myself up as a sort of online blogging ventriloquist, writing from the demon’s point of view and boldly conveying beliefs that I might not otherwise express for fear of criticism or condemnation. The demon can bring up topics that I might be uncomfortable discussing with people directly. It’s never been my intention, but in the back of my mind I know if the heat gets turned up too high, if something is a little too forward or controversial, I can just point to the demon and say, “That was him! It wasn’t me. You can still like me.”
It really is all about being liked. It’s the same reason people write anonymous letters or make anonymous comments online. It’s the same reason so many parody accounts exist on twitter. Church Curmudgeon, Back Row Baptist, Unappreciated Pastor, and Youth Minister’s Wife are all funny-but-true accounts on Twitter because they share what people are really thinking about church life. Would they still have a position in their church if people knew their true identity? Probably not. Anonymity makes us comfortable and critical without the fear of accountability. Anonymity says, “I want you to change, but I don’t want you to be mad at me for telling you to change. But I want you to change.”
Ephesians 4:15-16 “…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Truth in love. John Piper explains that “a gentle rebuke to fellow believers who have erred should always be brought with appropriate sobriety, humility, and never with arrogance and harshness.” Truth in love. When it works properly, it makes the body of Christ grow so that it builds itself up in love (v.16). So I have to ask myself, when I see families drifting further away from Christ, what is the most loving thing to do? Sit down with them and express a genuine concern for their spiritual well being, or run my hand up the back of my laptop puppet and hope they’ll read my blog? Go to them and pray with them, or write an ambiguous article and hope that a friend of a friend shares my post and the Holy Spirit speaks to them through sarcasm?
I may be a dummy, but I’m smart enough to know that I need to make some adjustments in the way that I express truth in love. I know what’s easiest, but what’s easiest is not always what’s best.