Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Secrets and Self-promotion

Was Jesus into 'self-promotion'? (eg - the miracles, healings, feeding the 5,000, turning over the temple tables etc). These were hardly 'secret' events were they?

And yet he specifically resisted the 'spectacular' when he was being tempted by the Devil, and he told those whom he had delivered or healed not to tell anyone, then there is the whole issue of the 'Messianic Secret'.

I tend to think that Jesus seemed reluctant about his 'fame' and 'popularity'. But I know I may be reading into the Gospel accounts something of my own personality - for I am instinctively more at ease in the background and not in the limelight (and - yes - I know that will come as a surprise to many!).

When I read / hear things which I have written being incorporated without being attributed or acknowledged into (for example) other people's sermons or General Assembly reports (and I have!) then rather than feeling a sense of outrage, indignation or whatever... I have a sense of quiet pride and smugness that I know it was me who said that! (And I am more than aware that this is an acknowledgement of a great deal of very un-holy pride!). Indeed, in these last sentences I fear I have contradicted my position on this!

I am conscious that my own personality can get in the way of my judgement, my opinions and my perspectives on Jesus in the Gospels. What do I do about that???

Part of all this has been precipitated by my feelings of intense discomfort when colleagues 'self-promote' (imho!!) their ministries, charitable acts, congregations and so on...

is that just me? could be! My personality cannot cope with it. I could not easily promote myself, my charitable acts or my congregation's 'wonderfulness' without extreme discomfort.

I recall a friend saying that the one 'sin' he would never preach about was gambling... simply because it is the one sin to which he was not in the slightest tempted! So forgive me if I seem to question at all the integrity of those whom I (in my doubtful humility!) consider to engage in 'self-promotion'. How easy it is for me - who recoils at the very idea of self promotion (and does so from an unhealthy place I reckon) - to question the motives of others.

But the questions are burning within me.

Is it Christian humility to talk about ourselves and the wonders of our ministries and our congregations in the public domain (internet, facebook, press releases, blogs etc)?

Are our charitable acts meant to be published given what Jesus said about not letting or left hand know what our right hand was doing?

Does Jesus' apparent (in my view) reluctance to encourage publicity sit easily with our constant publicising of our congregations and their successes, triumph's, virtues??

Just asking!


  1. In Mark Jesus certainly seems to go out of his way to avoid publicity (including after performing miraculous healings) and large crowds (which is a bit confusing given that he came to bring God's message), plus refused demons to acknowledge his nature. Some scholars have used this to mean that Jesus never actually claimed to be divine (see the excellent 'The historical figure of Jesus' by E.P. Sanders). However, the apostles were told to go forth and preach/perform miracles in God's name. Presumably this involved some self publicity so I don't see why the modern Church should not do the same.

  2. Fair point Chris. My blog seems to have provoked few responses on the blog page and an outburst of views elsewhere (including by email direct to me, as well as on facebook!)

    Actually, what I was really driving at was more the rather smug 'look at my wonderful church and how good it is' phenomenon alongside the 'I am a minister and yet I am happy to tell the world (usually via fb - or even in the local rag!) that I bungee jump for charity/play a mean rock guitar with my local heavy metal band/ play football with my local pub team... or whatever. Most of which i think is well intentioned (ministers are human too) but may be misguided (do we need to know?) But I am probably just being grudging and mean!