We sit behind our screens, the world at our fingertips. So we think we are living. We think that we are connected. Up to date. In the know.
We are not.
These electronic devices, offering us a different kind of window to the world. A different view. A different landscape. A different reality.
Our perception of life and relationship has become skewed. Altered. Impaired.
What have we gained? Speed. Convenience. Quantity. More. More. More. More comparison.
What’s been lost? Connection. Less. Less. Less. Less relationship.
And it’s showing. Like a bad spray tan. With our 5,000 Facebook friends and Twitter followers. And our daily selfies. This is how we rate our lives now. Check to see if we are getting it right.
And it’s safe. It’s easy. To compare. To laugh. To judge.
We think our thoughts. Leave our opinions. Our comments. Abandon the first commandment. Forget who we are.
Because we are not face to face.
I’m not a theologian or scholar. I can barely remember how to spell and do basic math most days. But I know hearts. I know suffering. I know brokenness. I know need. And in my experience, the most effective, life changing love has come through relationship.
I am a hermit. That barely scratches the surface of my issues, really. So I admittedly have too much time to think about what people are saying and doing. Especially online. But more than anything I crave relationship. Genuine connection. Jesus.
Oh Jesus, what do you see in this virtual age?
You got to know all kinds of people. Spent time with them. Developed relationships. You took time. Learned their names. Their stories. You didn’t have to agree with or support their lifestyle choices to do this. And your own kind rebuked you for it. Hated you, even.
Here goes nothing.
I’m going to take a leap here. Push some buttons. Rub some folks the wrong way. If you are a christian and have no real friends or relationships that are different than you (ie. gay, black, muslim, atheist - and I don’t mean what’s his name that works in accounting), then you may be doing something wrong. It’s in the title of who we are.
Christian. Christ Follower.
Imagine, for a moment, that person is standing in front of you. The transgender youth. A muslim family with their children. The mother of another black life lost too soon. The refugee family in need. Your best friend who is now an atheist. Or God forbid, your grown child who has just told you they are gay. Alone in a room. And not just any room. Their room. Because that’s where Jesus went. Their territory.
Your only job in that moment is to be love. What comes next?
When did the internet become the exception to the first commandment? A wall to hide behind as you hurl your pillars faith. The exception to treating every person we encounter, virtually or otherwise, through the filter of love and grace. That the same Jesus who came to live and die for us also came to die for each of them.
Your pillars mean nothing when they have no solid foundation to stand on.
The first commandment.
What happened to building relationships? Getting to know one another exactly as we are. To building each other up and being transformed to be more like Christ because we have earned that place in each others lives? My guarantee to people is to love them first because someone took the time to do the same for me. Not to abandon your morals. Your beliefs. Your values. But to consider you might be doing it wrong...
So for my fellow believers, in love, please stop using the internet to condemn the unbelieving world. To point your finger before you have even taken the time to learn a name. Have someone over for dinner. Stepped into someone else’s territory. You may know the Bible but if you can’t apply the first commandment, and I mean real actionable application, then your knowledge is worth nothing.
It’s a sounding gong. A clanging symbol. And it’s others that are left apologizing for your noise and the damage that it does.
START with LOVE. And let it continue to flow through the next thing you say or do. And the next. And the next. Without exception.
START with LOVE because it’s the first.
Start with love because it’s the greatest.
Start with love because it’s what we were made to do.
Start with love because it’s what Jesus did.