The Church and Facebook
Facebook is the rapidly expanding and ever popular social networking site. You can do a lot of cool things on Facebook but the main thing is an activity called “friending” people. It’s easy to find people on the site that you knew growing up or long ago from the many different parts of your life.
Of course younger people gravitate to it much more than older people. When you find someone you know you can send a request to be “friends” with them. They then get the opportunity to either “confirm” or “ignore” your request. I’ve always felt a little hoity or something ignoring a “friend request” so rarely do so. I ignored a friend request today because it was from a little baby and I didn’t even know the baby. Strange things can happen on Facebook. I was amused or maybe chagrined to learn that you can “un-friend” someone as well. They don’t know, at least not directly that they were un-friended. You simply delete them from your friends list and you are removed from theirs as well. It doesn’t take any mutual action to be un-friended. I guess we un-friend people in real life too, only it requires some overt action and more mutual interaction to un-friend someone.
I mention all this because I’d like to suggest that the church is like Facebook – only it’s the real thing. People are hungry for relationship. Facebook is a site that supposedly offers relationship and connection but what it offers isn’t the same as real relationships. It’s a substitute. It can present the illusion of relationship or caring but not the real thing. I’ve had people friend me on Facebook and never contact me again and I wondered why they wanted to be my friend.
People are always looking for connections. We need to connect however with real people and find real relationships. The church is a great place to connect; both with real people and with God. The church is a great place to find and to build on the kind of relationships that help us to be better people ourselves. The church is like Facebook – only in depth.
Connecting with people at deep and significant levels can be joyful, troubling, good, bad, happy and sad but always real. Connecting with people can be messy, complicated, and often our relationships take surprising turns, but again it’s real and when we connect through the spiritual dimension and with God at the center it is always better than on Facebook. It requires more in the church. It calls for more from me. It takes more out of my heart. But, then it always means more, lasts more, accomplishes more and yes, I’d just have to say – “like Facebook – only it’s the real thing!” See you in church Sunday.