I’ve been haunted lately by an old quote attributed to John Wesley, the famed English preacher and founder of Methodism:
“Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon the earth.”
My angst over this quote probably began when I entered the world of Twitter and began a daily count of my followers @BestBibleTweets. In just a week or so, I had gained more than 100 “followers,” yet somehow the world wasn’t shaking like Wesley described.
Another milestone came when I realized I had the same number of Twitter followers as the number of church members we had in the church I pastored in Ohio many years ago. It had taken our church an entire decade to reach that number of followers, but I did it on Twitter in slightly more than a month.
Yet the world still wasn’t shaking.
More milestones would soon follow, until I had thousands of Twitter followers in less than six months. I was certainly proud of my accomplishments…but still the world wasn’t shaking.
I forgot to mention that I also have more than 500 contacts on LinkedIn and almost 500 friends on Facebook. That’s cool, but I still find myself troubled by Wesley’s quote.
I can almost imagine Wesley appearing to me in a dream some night…
“Jim, how many disciples are you leading in the ways of Christ?” he might ask.
“Brother Wesley,” I would tell him, “I now have thousands of people following me on Twitter @BestBibleTweets and hundreds of friends reading my posts on Facebook.”
“Very impressive, Jim!” Wesley might say. “I sure wish I’d had technology like that to mold disciples in my generation. But tell me, are your followers truly growing in the grace and holiness of the Lord? Are you able to hold them accountable to the teachings of the Word? And are these ‘followers’ of yours bold in their faith and winning souls to Christ?”
Hmmm… How would I respond to such a troubling question? And how would YOU respond if Wesley inquired about your disciples?
Although I don’t plan to give up on the world of Twitter and Facebook, I’ve concluded that I would trade it all for just 100 people who “feared nothing but sin and desired nothing but God.” For as much as I love my Twitter flock, they are no substitute for true disciples. Nor can my Facebook friends match the level of face-to-face friendships God wants me to have.
Lord, we want to be world-shaking believers, able to raise up fully devoted followers who can cover the earth with Your glory!