When I was about fourteen I discovered a free copy of AOLpress, a software for easily making websites. I didn’t know code, but I thought having a website was cool. It was 1999. I didn’t know what I was doing.
So I began to put together a fan page of all the things I liked, because, as you know, people love to visit web pages made by people about the things they like. I also didn’t understand image copyright law. I filled my pages with pictures of cool things I had copied and pasted into a folder, mostly from cool video games and movies I liked. It was going to be a cool page.
Then I was bored. And I realized that all this work would amount to me showing nobody-who-cared what cool stuff I was in to that other people had already done better.
I had been baptized about two years prior, and spiritual things had been growing on my mind. I also felt like I was fairly intelligent. So after reading a couple tracts written by tractitioneers and pulpiteers, I decided I would make a website with all the Bible answers on it.
I decided to call it Godspoke.com.
I remember building the simple title page, the tabs for subjects—”morality”, “God”, “doctrine”—and writing a couple of the pages. I think I wrote a couple on abortion, drinking, and possibly something else.
I don’t know what stopped me, but I stopped. Something told me that just as it would have been pointless to engineer a vast webpage of copied images and ecstatic writing about cool things I liked, it would do no good for me to make a web site full of “articles” with all the answers I had found in the Bible.
I was fourteen. I was a novice at both writing and being a Christian, not to mention a plagiarizing know-nothing when it came to web site building.
Sadly, many people are playing the same game, even full-grown adults. Look not far and you will find arrogant know-it-alls who try to assemble a hasty and clumsy compendium of the “truth” about every spiritual matter, whether it be through books, tracts, websites, TV shows, YouTube channels, or their own ministry.
Wisdom takes years to gain, as does knowledge, and even then, all of us fail to know all things completely. From time to time I’ve reflected on the arrogance and delusion I had—I, an adolescent novice in spiritual matters, could just build a collection of final answers on the deep questions that even theologians and scholars wrestle with, debate, and reconsider. Not to mention the assumption that all I had to do was just “put it out there” and people would flock to it, not having any further questions once they saw what I posted.
Consider the title I had: Godspoke. It was going to be an encyclopedia of answers I gave to topics based on how I understood selected passages that I thought handled the topic—My novice, adolescent opinions. And the title? It implied that God was the one speaking. And when God spoke, the message was always about what topics he thought were important and what right thinking was about them. My page wasn’t going to have any tabs for how much God loved us, how awesome he was, or even what the Gospel was about. It was a topical concordance arranged out of a self-righteous need to feel right.
What person would go to that immature blog and decide to be a Christian? What confused soul would slap their forehead after reading and say, “Well, hot dog! Now I get it!”?
Here I am today, writing a blog in which I occasionally speak on a topic with a tone that conveys finality and assurance. I speak as if I am an expert. I speak as if I have answers. How am I different now?
- I’ve gained experience, wisdom, and humility
- My writing skills have grown, refined, and nuanced
- My understanding of God has been humbled and deepened
- I am more patient
- I am more mature
- I much more willing to admit now that I do not know the answers
- I seek not to act as an authority where I am not an authority
- I seek more to discuss things with people, rather than merely tell them how right I am
- I am still imperfect
I still have more room to grow, too. We all do. This is why I eventually conceded, after a couple years of thinking over it, to begin a blog. I would only do it if I could view it as a journey, not as a series of pronouncements.
If there is a compendium of all the answers, a source of all the spiritual “facts,” it’s the scripture. The only thing is, the scriptures do not call themselves a mere list of true facts about spiritual topics. Is it God’s message breathed to, about, and by his people? Is it profitable for teaching, refuting, guiding and training? I believe it is! But if God wanted us to have a simple, easy topic-by-topic guide that gives a straightforward answer to any question we have so that we can do, believe, and say everything perfectly, the Bible would have been written much differently.
There already is a Godspoke.com, by the way. You can go there now. I think I like it much better than the one I had planned. Sometimes there’s only one message you need to hear before you hear anything else, and that’s that God loves you. I didn’t realize it then. I do now. It’s one of many things I’ve learned over the years. I hope to learn more.