The dumbing down of Christianity has always been the object of some. The sinner’s prayer, the Roman’s road, and the four spiritual laws are examples of people trying to make Christianity simplistic. These have always proven deficient, regardless of appearing efficient.
Speed and efficiency are goals for those in the world. “Better” usually means bigger, faster, and simple. With the introduction of social media has come the meme. A picture accompanied by a clever, pithy saying is now the steady diet of “newsfeeds.”
The creators of memes are communicators, attempting to send a message, be it: political, philosophical, business, psychological, religious, etc. The quest is to distill wisdom to as few words as possible. The reason: the three second attention span may actually be less than three seconds, today.
For Christians, the meme format is perfect for pulling a single use text out of Scripture. Then, they put a pretty picture or background behind it. A text out of its context is dangerous for sending the wrong message to sinful people who operate in the futility of their minds (Eph 4:17). Yes, we want people to read the Bible, but not one random text at a time.
There is another meme creator: the Bible teacher. He is one who takes an overarching truth of Scripture and distills into a Bible lesson posing as a meme. Like a pimp trying to cater to the market demand for a one-off experience, the Christian meme-maker prostitutes the Word and wisdom of God to a fast and furious scrolling audience looking for a quick fix.
The less eminent pastor/theologian used to quote more notable ones, in order to support his preferred position. Quoting Christian word-smiths was an earlier form of meme-making, but these were typically used in larger bodies of work (ie. sermons; book; articles; papers; etc.). Today’s meme-master is even more prone to quote himself than someone more eminent!
The narcissistic pastor may even have his own logo, with the hope of someday selling franchises of himself. Helping others to find and use his most excellent quotes — one meme quote at a time — is a new trend. Whereas, Edwards, Spurgeon, Calvin, Pink wrote tomes, and men would study their works — finding gold nugget quotes — today’s self-quoting pastor writes nothing but meme quotes.
Meme-quotes, self-generated to promote the pastor as a wise man, also serves as a church marketing ploy for organization (numerical) growth. This is not novel, however. The self-serving pastor is simply following the lead of church leadership gurus, who may be the most narcissistic creatures ever known to man.
Self-promoting pastors of days gone by might say to a group, “You can read more about that in my book.” Today’s self-promoting pastor says, “Hey, dude, check out my cool memes where I quote myself with some dope wisdom.”
The travesty of combining self-serving, self-promoting, self-quoting meme makers is how silly all this church marketing hoopla is for the kingdom of God. It is all done in meaningless pride.
Jesus Christ promised to build His church (Mt 16:18). He and God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to accomplish the mission of reconnaissance (Jn 14:26; 15:26). God is gathering His lost sheep into the house of Israel, who is Christ the Lord (Is 49:3, 6).
Without church marketing schemes or any other techniques to trick people into gathering with the called out ones, God’s Spirit has secured every single elect, redeemed soul in history. Not one of them was stolen or lost for eternity (Jn 10:28–29; Rom 8:31–35). What was the planned means of God to gather His chosen people to Himself? It has always been the preaching and teaching of God’s Word.
The Bible is God’s special revelation for all people to read, hear, and know God’s will for creation, fall, Law, redemption, resurrection, destruction, and re-creation. The knowledge of God is our salvation, and to know Him is a comprehensive life-long learning task.
God has organized His revealed Word in such a way that we might know His attributes, His will, and His works (Mt 4:4). Unless the Christian is lusting after self-glory, he will keep his eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2). He will learn Christ (Ezra 7:10). He will increasingly know Christ (1 Cor 2:2; 2 Cor 4:6; 2 Pet 3:18). He will labor to make Christ known, using the instrument that God has given in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. He will preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2)!
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 18, 2022