Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Technologic

Written Nov. 2007

I’m convinced our society is turning into a completely disconnected network of faceless identities. Sure we have technology; just gimme ur # & ill txt u plz. But the industry that originally vowed to keep us more connected has really deceived us. Instant messaging and Facebook make it easier for us to confront one another, at least through those mediums. What about face-to-face contact? I find that I have a huge problem making eye contact with people when I speak to them probably thanks to my e-mail and Facebook accounts. Also, why do I send a Happy Birthday greeting on facebook to someone when she lives in the same residence hall as I do? This is proof that our society has become totally disconnected from one another. Sure, my little brother could probably quote every single episode of Latest Anime Cartoon on Channel 11, but can he carry on a conversation with someone without being obnoxiously loud or making slapstick comedic remarks? The answer, my friend, is no.

The whole thing that prompted me to write this article is actually present here on campus, and I think it is the root of many other problems concerning the state of our Christian community, specifically (the greater community, too, if one exists): I see someone that I may or may not be familiar with on the sidewalk, we pass, neither she nor I make an effort to make eye contact, smile or say “Hi.” What is the deal with that? We are on the same small Christian college campus, right? I have no excuse not to smile or nod at someone when I pass them, no matter how crumby I’m feeling or how crumby the weather is outside.

I cannot express the amount of joy I get from someone I don’t know saying “hi” to me on the sidewalk. Granted I may be needy and wanting attention, but is it really all that bad for me to feel loved by eye contact and genuine effort to acknowledge my presence? I don’t think so either.

Let me lay down a little ditty for you: I’m walking from one of my night classes to dinner and I see this girl who is in a few of my classes, to whom I have never talked, mind you. As I’m walking, she greets me with, “Hey girl! How are you?” and a big smile. I was planning on ignoring her, or maybe smiling or saying “hi,” but when she approached me with that greeting, I was so pleasantly surprised that the only thing I could say back to her was, “Oh my gosh! You are so cute!” She made my night, not even kidding. I looked like an idiot because I didn’t even answer her question, but I took so much joy in the fact that she took a slight interest in my well-being that it didn’t really matter to me.

As Christians, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our neighbors. For me not to say “hi” to a Wengatz guy or even a fellow English girl seems blatantly antithetical to the doctrine of Christ to which I hold so dearly. Even though that may seem slightly dramatic, what would we lose by practicing something so simple and sincere?

The same concept can apply to other situations as well—you are in IHOP with four of your great friends, having a ball and enjoying chocolate chip pancakes, of course. Your server comes up and tells you his name…do you take notice? Do you or any of your friends make an effort to summon his service or thank him by using his name instead of impersonally waving your hand or saying “excuse me?”

Case number three: At school, I share a living space with about 25 other girls. One of the girls goes around every single night to give hugs and kisses goodnight to every single girl on the wing. She may not even know them that well, but she insists upon sharing and showing the love that she has in her heart.

Based on these three situations, it is obviously not that hard to relate to one another on a human level. Human beings are able to relate to one another with an equal amount of love to go around. Let me say that again: we have unlimited amounts of love to give. Love never runs out. It’s not quantitative. Can you imagine having five kids but loving the first four so much that you had none left for the fourth? You and I were made for human contact and affection even though we so often neglect the senses that enable us and empower us to share that special bond with our fellow fleshy ones.

I challenge you to do something about this.

Saucy?

Posted on facebook in December of 2007...a challenge nonetheless.

I’m feelin’ a bit saucy… MMmmmm, I love breaks where I have enough time to waste on writing notes on Facebook...speaking of which, does it annoy anyone else when people post song lyrics in a note and expect (I'm assuming) people to read it? 'Cause that pretty much annoys the crap out of me. I'm much more inclined to read someone's personal interpretations of their life or circumstances rather than someone else's song written for some other occasion that is not my life or yours. But, alas, I'm a hypocrite...my last note was a poem by Robert Frost...

Anyway, I've been thinking lately. Surprised? haha. No, but seriously, I have been thinking a lot about humanity and Jesus and Christians in America, etc. This is most likely due to me reading Blue Like Jazz over Thanksgiving break and now reading The Irresistible Revolution over this break. But that aside, I have been thinking about this stuff long before I picked up those books, and I think I am passionate about it all ("Stuff" and "It all" simply referring to people in the context of faith in Christ).

If you have talked to me lately about my personal faith or religion or Christianity, whatever you want to call it, you will know that I have come to a very profound, yet simple revelation: People are the heart of the gospel.

I keep wrestling with this thought, trying to take the deepest meaning from it while keeping the simplicity of it in the forefront of my mind. I have come to this conclusion about people through a combination of exposure to Scripture, people, books, experiences (mine and those of others), and the like. I’m a reflective sort of person, so I’ve had a lot to chew on lately.

Point made here: I’m sick and tired of modern American Christianity and everything that goes along with that label, the criticism, the conservatives, the liberals, the ignorance, the lack of passion, the misunderstanding of the Bible, the meaningless debates about things that only drive nonbelievers further from the True God, the mindless Sunday services, the lack of prayer…

“On earth as it is in Heaven”

That’s not simply a lyric to a song you sing after the altar call. It’s part of Scripture; it’s something we are to pray to our Heavenly Father. It’s what Jesus has called us, as his feet and hands, to do (I love the feet and hands analogy in Scripture because we are, after all, the body of Christ). Our faith, as Shane Claiborne has so eloquently pointed out in his book The Irresistible Revolution, is not something in which we simply find satisfaction in our eternal rewards, but one that calls us to live like Jesus. Expounding on that cliché phrase: bring hope to the poor by listening to their stories and showing them the love Jesus has lavished on all his children, seeing the good in the rich celebrities, defeating legalism inside and outside the church, striving for peace, loving our enemies instead of killing them. ACTION.

Love your neighbor as yourself—Even if you aren’t a Christian you know this is the Golden Rule. I don’t know a lot of people who disagree with it, either. I do know a lot of people who live antithetically, unfortunately, especially Christians in America. Take me for example, I wake up every morning, shower (usually), eat, wear clothes that (despite my own perceptions) keep me sufficiently warm, drink uncontaminated water, pay a few bucks for a white hot chocolate or a chai, read my Bible (sometimes), go to church, hang out with friends who care deeply for me, learn from some brilliant scholars in classes, etc. The list is endless. I love myself very much, and I nourish myself quite heavily, physically and spiritually. So, do I love my neighbor as myself? Not even close. When was the last time I made a meal for someone who really needed it? How often do we go shopping for the trendiest looks (whether it be at Goodwill or J. Crew) and don’t think twice about people who are living for long periods of time in the same clothes, never washing them, and most likely never washing themselves? What about simply sharing my stories and struggles with people who need it? What about praying with dying lepers in India? Loving the seemingly unlovable?

I don’t want this note to be some whiny complaining social justice plea but something much more practical and meaningful, especially to followers of Jesus Christ. Christ calls us, in His word, to take up our cross and follow him. Let me remind you, taking up a cross is not some glamorous, effortless task we undergo to get to heaven. No, it’s actually something quite dirty and painful that we do here on earth. Why is it that Christians live (despite what we think) as a part of this world, what with the things we buy, the ways in which we live altogether. What would happen if we were to sell everything and follow Jesus in a radical way? We don’t know because we are too scared to try. Where are the risk-takers in the modern American church? Jesus was certainly a risk-taker, and if we are to take up our cross and follow Him, I’m pretty sure the same is expected of us.Granted, the title of this note explains why I am addressing this topic in a not-so-timid way, but I wholeheartedly believe everything in this note. I want to be a radical Christian, not in the sense that I want people to recognize me as a hippy pacifist or just think I’m really cool, but simply because Christ wants me “not to conform to the patterns of this world” and “to take up my cross and follow Him” and “to love my neighbor as myself.”

I’m sick of pretending to be ultra-spiritual because I attend a Christian university, or because I go to church. I want to be a Christ-follower, a disciple, one who gives her life for the sake of spreading the gospel to others. I’m sick of you doing the same things I do.

Let’s take some risks and truly love people, no matter their faults, like Jesus did and still does today. Let’s stop making excuses and start taking action. Our faith is an active one, not one of simply words.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this, whether you are a Christian or not. Please share. I want to know your heart.


I apologize if my sassiness is a bit blunt, but I feel like that’s the only thing people respond to nowadays.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.