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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Envision the Gospel - Technology

Making the good news of Jesus a present reality is, in some ways, the same as it’s always been. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Give a cup of water to the thirsty, bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked and comfort to the captives. But, with the technology available to us, there are myriad more ways that we can show the good news of Jesus as a present reality. Connecting through social media and the internet allows us to share more news and more relationships more quickly. We have huge opportunities available, but if we don’t use them, we will likely be used by them. We can’t escape the effects of the internet and social media, so we must become a part of the process.

Good news is always in contrast to the brokenness of the world. Good news is other, apart, it stands as a critique of brokenness. As Michelangelo is to have said: “I critique by making something beautiful.” Good news, however, can’t be fully separate from what it critiques. The criticism isn’t valid if it comes from outside, but good news critiques from within. We are, as Jesus prayed, in the world yet not of it. We are a part of social media, but we don’t become consumed by it. We are a part of the online community, but we don’t live by the values of the internet.

Social media is voyeuristic and narcissistic, when taken to its extreme. One’s own opinion is the highest authority and generating comments is the highest aim. This doesn’t lend itself to real dialog or deep connections. Good news, in contrast, sees “not only your own interest, but also the interest of others.” If you’re willing to give up your status in social media, you can engage in real dialog. But you will have to admit when you’re wrong and admit when other people have opinions that are better than yours. It takes grace and love to interact online in that way. You can also develop a sense for when people are expressing hurt online and reach out to them. Send a private message to someone who appears to be struggling, or better yet, ask them out to lunch and have a conversation with them.
The internet is a black hole of selfishness, among its many faults. Finding ways to bring a selfless attitude to online interaction is an important way to communicate the good news – to help people see tangible evidence of good news – even online.

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