By Jeff Mingee
Belief drives behavior. How we act reveals, for the most part, what we believe. We believe certain things will satisfy us so our search bars autofill and our Amazon carts are never empty. We believe that image is everything so we browse for the perfect Instagram filter to minimize our blemishes and emphasize particulars on an already selective group of pictures. No filters can fix the photos we’ve left out.
There are doctrines behind your digital activity. Captions expose your creeds. The apps you download tell us something about the truths you believe.
In Titus 2:11-14 Paul grounds our behavior in doctrine. John Stott explains, “The particular doctrine in Titus 2, on which Paul grounds his ethical appeal, is that of the two comings of Christ, which he here calls his, two ‘epiphanies’ or appearings” (BST, 192). Christ has appeared in grace; in the weakness and humility of human flesh. And he will appear in glory.
Paul writes, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (TItus 2:11-14)
In his commentary, Stott highlights the epiphany of grace (2:11-12) and the epiphany of glory (2:13-14). Christian, each of these appearings ought to influence your digital activity.
The Epiphany of Grace
God’s grace has appeared in the person of Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:11). This epiphany is the first doctrine in which Paul grounds our behavior. We behave in certain ways because grace has appeared in Jesus.
Stott explains, “What then does grace teach? Two main lessons. First, and negatively, it teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions (12a). Secondly, and positively, it teaches us… to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age (12b). (Stott, 193, italics original)
Does the tone of your digital activity declare, “this person has experienced deep and abiding grace?” Is it evident that you have experienced this grace specifically in the person and work of Jesus Christ? Vague spiritual posts leave readers with unhelpful spiritual impressions. “#blessed” points no one to Christ.
Grace has appeared. Personally and powerfully. Christians ought to leverage their digital lives pointing people to the Christ in whom this grace is found.
The Epiphany of Glory
Paul then points to the epiphany of glory; what he calls our “our blessed hope.” This appearing we long for and wait for. This appearance pulls our hearts, and digital devices, heavenward.
The same Christ who “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness” is coming again to finalize his redemptive purchase. He will bring his bride home. He will one day free you finally and fully from sin’s power and presence. The same Christ who “gave himself […] to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” will walk down the aisle with his beautified bride. We will not always be waiting for the wedding feast. One day we will celebrate. Glory.
The appearance of Christ in glory ought to impact your digital activity. Your search bar should be governed by the satisfaction you will have one day with Christ. The activity you think is hidden in “incognito mode” will one day be revealed before the King of Glory.
We are not waiting for an empty promise. He has come and he will come again. God will keep his Word. Glory is sure and certain. Oh, Christian, submit your digital activity to the blessed hope and great glory for which you currently wait.
Redirecting Your Digital Activity
So what beliefs does your digital activity expose? Are you walking away from Christ sorrowful like the rich young ruler? Are you defending your idols against the Christ who calls you to break them to pieces? Are you pridefully promoting yourself in defiance of the Christ who calls you to deny yourself? Has the epiphany of grace or the epiphany of glory done nothing worth impacting your digital activity?
Stott summarizes, “This deliberate orientation of ourselves, this looking back and looking forward, this determination to live in the light of Christ’s two comings, to live today in the light of yesterday and tomorrow – this should be an essential part of our daily discipline. We need to say to ourselves regularly the great acclamation, ‘Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.’ For then our present duties […] will be inspired by the past and future epiphanies of Christ.” (196)
Christian, forget not your creed. If you must, drag your digital activity into the light of Scripture and expose it. Bring it to the pierced hands and feet of Christ. And allow him to inspire, govern, and redirect it for his glory.