In the modern day church of 2015 it seems like we hear a lot of things like, “Well, back in the 80’s we used to run (insert your number) and now it’s all we can do to get (another number).” 2015 is a different time and a different world. Who would have ever thought that Christians would be running for their lives in America? But it is happening!! Also, churches are running for their lives to keep going and the downward spiral of believers who darken the doors of churches is declining. We scratch our heads and hope that the modern trends of mass media will somehow stop the bleeding, but will it? Sometimes the “fix” we use to repair the problem only makes it worse, and in the case of today’s fixes for the problem, I believe that is happening. It seems like the world’s fixation on second and third hand relationships is a part of the problem that caused the downward spiral of true relationship building. Texting instead of actually “talking” to someone on the phone, has made us even more antiseptic in our relationships. Antiseptic, in that we think typing something can make our words more powerful than our human voice, when in reality it is a wispy conversation at best. Ok, I’m 60 years old and here it goes….David, you have to get with the times and realize this is just the way things are going, so let go of the past and keep up with the current changes in our society. And, by the way, I do text. begrudgingly, but I DO text. Overall I think texting is a good “backup” for not being able to reach someone on the phone, so it does have some advantages….some. But texting can never replace the one on one conversations that develop relationships, share dreams, and deepen our connections with each other. NEVER!!!
I was a youth pastor for 25 years and during those years I forced the youth to really get to know each other by doing “one on one” exercises in communication. At the time I thought, and they thought, I was crazy for doing that, but the end result was worth it all. A young person in the early stages of development will at times try to avoid that personal contact of another person for whatever reason. It could be they are intimidated, or shy, or superficial in their personality. So, when you “force” a person of that age to do something like sit across from another person and get to know them one on one, it scares them to death. But in the case of those in my youth group, they started liking it, and wanting to do it….a lot. Relationships in the group that seemed to be timid and awkward, started becoming warm and close. The fake faces were gone and the real you and me took over and we were ok with it. Things like eye contact, and sharing, and listening replaced walk bys, and, I don’t have time for this, and avoidance. It was great!!! Guess when this happened? The 80s! If I were a prophet at that time, I would have told you “There will be a time when talk and conversation is going to be replaced with machines.” You would have looked at me and thought I was crazy, or writing the next Star Wars script, but not looking at the world realistically. But it has happened!! And it continues to happen more and more.
Can you imagine what the life of Christ would have looked like in Jesus’ day if they had our modern means? Instead of walking among the people healing and preaching, Jesus would have made a video on His iphone and put it on facebook. Or maybe, Jesus would have attached a gopro to his head and captured them lifting him up on the cross, and looking down on the people seeing their detachment from what was happening to Him. There are some things you just can’t reproduce without being there. That is the precious thing about interaction with people. You are there….. Not through a text or Facebook messenger. You are there. You are real and they are real and now it is one on one. Can you handle that? You might think not, but if you will force yourself to spend time one on one with someone, I believe you will develop the ability to do it more and more until it unearths who you really are, a human being. Don’t get me wrong. I have an Iphone and yes, I look at it quite often to use the computer side of it to get information, and Siri has helped me many times. I just feel like such a “sell out” when it comes to how I should be connecting with people. I should talk to them in person, and at least on the phone to make it much more personal. I should…I could….I would…. I will!!! The Psalmist in 16:11 said a lot about being in the presence of someone, namely God. It says “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
So, why don’t people come to Bible Study and Church like they did years ago? Could it be that technology is feeding the lack of desire for true communication in human form with each other? I think so! You know what’s next don’t you? Of course, this mindset also feeds the lack of desire to be in God’s presence also. Here is a scenario. I text God my prayer request and wait for him to text me back? I don’t think so, do you? If we are so immersed in the worldly practice of avoiding the presence of someone else, surely we are also avoiding being in the presence of God!! Now if you think all of this is just a bunch of hooey from an old guy, maybe you are drinking the koolaid and thinking it tastes good. I’m telling you, it will kill you if you don’t quit!! You may use the creativity excuse to keep the texting element in use, but that is weak because true creativity is best seen in people interacting with God and each other. In John 8 Jesus told the Jews “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” They questioned Him about saying that He could set them free by saying they had never been slaves. They just couldn’t get it because they had been conditioned from childhood to believe what they were saying. So, they missed the reality of truth shared to them by Jesus. We have been conditioned to think that a certain way of communicating is best also, but is it? Jesus went on to say in vs. 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus introduced a new “game plan” and it was different than what they had been used to, and instead of embracing it, they fought it. Of course, they were deep in their beliefs and it consumed them to the point of doubting Jesus at every word He said, so Jesus got straight to the point…“He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Jesus is great about getting to the point and He did that right in front of them, to their face. That is interaction at it’s purest form. One on One. We need more of that kind of conversation between believers and believers; and believers and non believers. Here is an experiment you can do. When you are connecting with someone else in a conversation try to at least talk to them on the phone, but preferably face to face. It may be a little difficult at first, but you will get good at it after a while and then you will see the value of one on one in the presence of someone else. And on that same thought, spend time one on one with God and see if that doesn’t develop into a closer relationship that involves being in the presence of God. Oh yeah, it would be great to also believe that you can actually be in the presence of the Living God. There’s a good start right there….
Where did all the words go? They are still here, but just not being used in conversations….
The Pilgrimage continues….