Today while driving into work I was thinking that if I disappeared, would people know. Would I be missed? How long would it take?
I remember many years ago I was challenged with the imprisonment of a pastor who was in jail in China for “crimes against the state”. Daily people were reaching out in prayer. And one day, some 20 years later, he was released.
Hundreds if not thousands appeared to welcome him. This group of people had met daily to pray for his release. Daily! What is even more important is no one had seen him for all those years. I remember thinking at that time, how many just disconnect, losing touch after weeks, months and at best, years. Please hear me this is not a condemnation thing. It is an observation. (And I have done it. “Out of sight, out of mind.” It is not healthy.)
A conversation with a friend earlier this year lead me to some strong words about community. He had been part of a community of believers for over a year, leadership. And he said to me “if my wife and I left, no one would miss us.” He is not a complainer but a dedicated family and friends kind of person. This church gathering is very focused on the reaching the lost. But what about reaching the found? He and his wife had become isolated. (Earlier this week, I said to my son, “no man is an island but they are an archipelago”.)
Disconnections. Now some are seasons and some may truly be from God. But , I think a lot of it isn’t. Why do I think this? Look around at the broken landscape. People are doing anything to make a connection. (One of my unsaved friends said to me the other day, “do you ever matchmake?”)
Why all these things? Of course there is evil at the root of it, but what about what it manifests as? Are we being the head or the tail?
I have said for many a year that Facebook (And other social media.) are anything but “social media”. “The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms as applied to populations of humans and other animals. It always refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.” Read that last line… Interaction that may be involuntary?
Folks, Facebook is a business model. A model designed to move money from you and make the company wealthy. Like any other successful platform it has algorithms, programs and data capture designed to move you in a specific area or location. It is designed to make money. It determines whose posts you see, how often and ties you to specific groups and businesses. At the heart of it, it is a glorified data machine. A successful one, but a data base. And from that information it makes money.
Businesses are designed to make money. (A couple of interesting tidbits. In 2012 Google accounted for roughly 0.013% of the world’s energy use. It uses enough energy to continuously power 200,000 homes. According to Google, the energy it takes to conduct 100 searches on its site is equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb burning for 28 minutes. Google uses about 0.0003 kWh of energy to answer the average search query, which translates into about 0.2 g of carbon dioxide released. Why no complaints? Oh, wait they control your searches.)
They are designed to make money by bringing you together in a predetermined method. It is not about friends. Yes, you can control some of it, but what happens when they experiment with social engineering? Earlier this year Facebook announced an experiment had been in play.
I am not angry. It is no different than what appears on an end deck in a store, or what draws your attention in a shopping mall. Enough about Facebook. (Though I have a better model.)
Money is their business. People are ours.
This is about people. What keeps us in connection? For the church, it is God. God is the head of the church and we are His body. So, how do we get together, interact? Again while driving to work, I thought about what keeps us in connection. People want to. I went through a very dry season devoid of friends. A new job just sucked all my energy away. During that time I lost connection. Sunday mornings at our fellowship are my connection to people. But then I thought of that imprisoned pastor. What was his connect? I am sure angels appeared with the thousands of prayers that arose daily. What kept those people praying?
I think about Sundays where we might hold one another’s hand and pray for each other. Or pray for people who are beaten down. While it is a reality, it is also a “model” for the body of Christ to embrace. A model of community. When was the last time you sat down (Not in a fellowship building.) and broke bread with another? Took the cup. Not because you have to but because you can. When did you last reach out to someone? What about those you have not seen? Do not feel condemned. I am but asking.
Folks, we have allowed situations to mold us to a different way of life. We have allowed the multiple messages we have access to to shape us on many levels. And yet I wonder if each of us reached out to but one. (I have two men in my life who often send me text messages. A woman who sends me regular encouragement. The consistency of their reaching out helps me.)
I can read the news. I know the deal. I also know that I have the ability and the understanding to change those about me. I find the lost. But I also reach out to find the found.
We can choose. Will geography, the news or situation keep us from our “appointed rounds”? We have come to a believe a post or a picture will replace people.
I remember reading this in the history of the post office many years ago. It is found in the Smithsonian Postal Museum.
Messenger of Sympathy and Love
Servant of Parted Friends
Consoler of the Lonely
Bond of the Scattered Family
Enlarger of the Common Life
Carrier of News and Knowledge
Instrument of Trade and Industry
Promoter of Mutual Acquaintance
Of Peace and of Goodwill Among Men and Nations.
Think about that. The reality of connection. It was called “The Letter” by Dr. Charles W. Eliot. Can you imagine the idea that a communication, could promote mutual acquaintance, peace and good will?
In the words of AT&T, I think it is time to “reach out and touch someone”.