Talking Jesus in a Texting World

Jesus walked.  He walked a lot.

Always headed somewhere for someone, but never in a hurry.  Always busy but never rushing.  He wandered and meandered (like a pilgrim), prayed and taught (like a Master).  Son of Man, Son of God.  Roving and loving.

The Way stopped along the way because no one was ever in the way.  He doubled back and backtracked but was never sidetracked.  He passed by and passed through for the sake of his passible mission: The Passover.

Jesus walked.  He established his Kingdom on his peripatetic life.  A life filled with, but never interrupted by, long nights of private prayer and bread and wine with followers, friends, and foes.  Life in his Kingdom would be marked by patient, long-suffering conversations along The Way.  Communication would shape the community, not lord over it.

So, would Jesus text us?  Perhaps he would let us know he’d finally left the synagogue and on his way for Sabbath lunch.  He’d be there when he got there, though.  Better be prepared.  And better get extra pillows because there will be much conversation.

Jesus was never interested in getting as much information out as quickly as possible to as many as possible.  He walked, talked, and listened.  That’s what Love does.  He’d rather spend hours talking blood and flesh (Jn 6) or telling parables (Mt 13) to the Twelve than texting one-liners and platitudes to thousands.  Grace is slow-baked, never microwaved.

Jesus showed us The Way has no shortcuts.  It cannot be hijacked by digital pirates.  In Christ’s kingdom, the best communication is rarely a straight line.  It most often wanders through the heart.  Like Jesus, we must stop along The Way.

Technology has its place.  It always has.  But it never has the place.  It can never replace the life Jesus has for his followers.  A peripatetic life.  An incarnational, not a digital, faith.

We have heavenly appetites craving more than abbreviated grace.  Sure, the occasional text is a nice pick-me-up, but it keeps our humanity a little more out of reach.  At least a call or handwritten note brings our humanity — even our Christ — nearer, which is the essence of biblical community.  We hear and we touch.

At best, a text is like the afternoon snack that gets us by until the meal. But Jesus never made us to live on snacks.  He made us for Heavenly Bread.  And bread takes time to rise.  Love takes time to rise.

Texting might well prove we love our time more than we love our contacts. Sure, we texted right words and perhaps even Scripture.  But have we really encouraged like Jesus?  We took 30 seconds we weren’t using anyway. We piously call it “redeeming the time” but we’ve really just squeezed in someone on the way to ourselves.  They’re not worth a 30-minute conversation or 20-minute handwritten prayer.  We’ll shoot of a text and call that edification.  In so doing, we cheapened one another a little more.

It’s communication without community.  Sending without stopping. Emoticons without emotion.  Saying without praying.  Grace without grit. Snacking instead of feasting.  Icons with the Eikon (Col 1.15).

In no time we’ve digitized the faith.  We’re all avatars on a virtual way.  Saying everything and nothing at the same time.  Simultaneously knowing everyone and no one.  All the while, Jesus is a long way back with a few people, crying, laughing, sweating, kneeling, healing, loving.  While we’ve texted our way dangerously near the destructive wide road (Mt 7.13) Jesus is back there sharing bread and wine with his friends.

I am in danger.  The danger of getting so far down the road that I’ve lost my way.  Lost The Way.  It’s time I start saying more to fewer people than saying less to more people.  I want to see a face, not a notification.

Repentance is near.  Where’s my pen and what’s your address?  Jesus is coming for Sabbath and I must get ready.

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