September 13, 2019
Good Friday morning ...
I'm guessing it was about 26 years ago when I signed up for an e-mail account with Juno. It was free and offered me what I thought I needed ... a simple, easy way to stay connected with distant friends and family without a long-distance phone call.
I still have the same e-mail account ... same address ... same conditions ... same everything ... except it has grown from just "Juno" to "Juno 15.0" or some other number that signifies advanced capabilities. And, oh yes, the home page has been updated occasionally, which just about drives me crazy because of the new placement of old symbols.
In the past few years a slew of social networking websites have been born. I Googled the term "social websites" the other day for the fun of it and came up with a list of two hundred and twelve MAJOR websites ... but was informed there are literally thousands of sites worldwide. Not only is there WhatsApp, WeChat, QZone, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Tumbir ... but there are oddballs like Cucumbertown, Disaboom, Flickr, and RoosterTeeth.
Several years ago, I took an old man's leap and responded to a repeated request on e-mail to become a "Facebook Friend" of someone with whom I am friends. I thought little of it at the time, but wanting to be polite and courteous and to assure my friend that I was indeed a friend ... I opened the link with some trepidation. There was my friend, smiling expectantly at me with two boxes next to her picture. I was to click either CONFIRM or IGNORE.
I didn't want to ignore my friend. How can you ignore a smiling face ... especially when all she wants is to be your friend? So, I clicked CONFIRM and went about my business. Within an hour I had twenty or so more requests to become a "Facebook Friend." Interestingly, most of the requests came from people I knew and whom I realized were mutual friends of my new "Facebook Friend" and me.
"What have I done?" I thought. Have I opened Pandora's box? Each of these new requests, of course, wanted me to CONFIRM or IGNORE their invitation to become a Facebook friend. What was I to do? I couldn't just willy-nilly ignore them all! That would be rude, wouldn't it? After all, most of them were my friends and somehow I didn't want some of them to get wind that I had chosen to be a friend of one while not a friend of the other.
So, as I was confirming most of those friends to now become "Facebook friends," my e-mail inbox kept dinging with new incoming mail and each time I checked my inbox, there was another request to become a Facebook friend. I suddenly realized that I could be at this for quite a while, so I closed my e-mail and went on to other things.
That was quite a while ago. Since then I occasionally go on Facebook and check out my friends. I am amazed to read the trivia that is shared. I'm not quite sure I need to know that someone is drying their hair or sitting down to watch a movie or getting ready to have some leftover lasagna for dinner. Those things may be important for me to know around my house ... but not around someone else's. I get to thinking that this type of keeping in touch is a bit much for this aging youngster.
Like so many things these days ... "talking" isn't what it used to be!
And yet I can't help but think: Wouldn't Jesus use social media to contact friends if He were still walking on earth? Perhaps He would! But of this I am relatively certain: He would still want to do His talking and sharing in person. He might use Facebook to invite me to meet Him in the park at 10am so we "can walk and talk" ... but I seriously doubt He would want me to know He was getting His beard trimmed on the way over. Much more important to Him would be His invitation to "Come" (as in "Come unto Me!") and His exhortation to "Go!" (as in "Go and make disciples!"). After all, the trivia of our lives is not all that important in the overall scheme of things.
Jesus' method was much more personal ... one-on-one ...sometimes in your face ... but always asking questions, getting to know His conversationalists and conveying truths. There was nothing trivial about them. Imagine the conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well ... or the one with the Pharisee named Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night ...or the one where Simon Peter was reinstated after breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Powerful lessons were learned ... marvelous truths were revealed ... unheard of teachings were explored ... all up-close and personal, consuming valuable time and effort and never trivial.
What a blessing it is to know that Jesus doesn't twitter me all day. He doesn't invade my Inbox with invitations, offers and appeals. He doesn't leave messages on my cell phone to call back when convenient. He doesn't repeatedly text me to get my attention.
But interestingly, He is all around me every day and when I put myself in position to hear Him ... He has something significant to say about everything! Without being bothersome, trivial or annoying, He is constantly present, sometimes a stark reminder of things gone awry, but more often than not, a sure and peaceful comfort through my day.
There's probably way too much talking these days and a lot of it is what we used to call "blubber." That's why it's so shocking when on occasion in casual "blubbery" conversation ... I might interject the question: "If you were to die tonight ..." The mind of the one to whom I am speaking goes blank ... the eyes glaze over in a freakish stare ... and the mouth knows not what to say. And suddenly I realize it is the trivia we hide behind to avoid the questions of life that really count.
As you share your weekend with others, be sure to focus on that which really counts and give God the honor of your presence in worship this weekend.
"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" [Hebrews 9:27-28]