So I sat on the porch that day, and read from Matthew’s Gospel, sifting through it my questions and thoughts about blogging. I read more as the week went on, read it all, then reread parts, all through September.
What it gave me wasn’t a definitive answer whether to keep blogging or not, but relevant insights and a general spirit of the whole book, probably more important than any nit-picky details or yes-no answer.
My first read-through reminded me how “upside down” its spirit compares to our present world’s mindset in general and most writing and publishing today in particular. The Gospel’s spirit is humility, so opposite the social media methods to “promote your blog” and present-day publishers’ demands to “promote yourself.”
Matthew begins with the obscurity and lowliness characterizing the start of Christ’s earthly life (and most of the rest of it)…
God visits Earth in the form of a mere infant, born to an insignificant young woman, in a smallish town of little note in its day. He gets a feeding trough for a bed, and the only attendants other than His earth-parents are a bunch of sheep-smelly herdsmen from out in the fields—the only ones who get the angelic announcement.
There’s a king and a palace in Jerusalem, and important religious leaders in the temple built for God. Yet He visits and works through the humblest, least noted things and places and people.
Those people are often oppressed—and hidden. Mary and Joseph must take the Christ child Himself and flee to hide in Egypt, and on their return they go reside in a place about which Nathanael would later quip, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
After that we read nothing about the first thirty years of Christ’s life, except Luke’s account of His one-time exchange with the learned in the temple at age twelve. His earthly parents, much distressed over discovering his absence on their return home, frantically backtrack, and finding Him there, rebuke Him in their ignorance and hurry Him back to Nazareth Nowhere. They don’t “get it,” and yet He, the mighty God of All wearing earthly flesh, submits to them and their sequestering!
Finally resurfacing decades later at the Jordan River (Mt 3), He arrives to have someone else baptize Him! Then the Spirit descends and leads Him forth… into the howling, lonely wilderness, away from everyone else!
What about that man John, of whom He asks baptism? To what great place did God call him to minister? The desert of Judea, where he lived in destitution, wearing the equivalent of a burlap sack, subsisting on forage, such as locusts!
John doesn’t go unnoticed, but we read nothing about his going after a following. He cries Truth in the wilderness, and people come out to him. (Just why the text doesn’t say.) His words don’t sweet-talk with the wild honey that audience-seekers might use, either, but often bite bitter and hard and sharp.
Instead of seeking growing numbers for himself, he points his followers to Jesus (John 1:35-38), and when they leave to follow Christ and others get upset about the competition stealing his numbers, John rightly answers, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:26-30).
Later on, Jesus repeatedly slips away from the crowds to hide in holy solitude with the Father alone, and even instructs people to keep secret who He is and how He miraculously healed them…
But isn’t that just how He told others to do in the Sermon on the Mount?
(Coming soon: Blogging and the Sermon on the Mount.)
[No major conclusions here yet, for wisdom’s process requires adequate collecting of insights first. These were just the beginning.]