Letter from the editor: Seeking the Heart of God in the Age of Social Media

I have the TimeHop app on my phone. I love that it keeps a streak of my visits every day, and I usually remember to tap the smiling-dinosaur-icon and do a quick scroll-through of any memories of my former social-media-self. The app goes from most recent to oldest posts made on Instagram and Facebook (those are the only two outlets I have linked to mine). And usually it’s always the last couple that make me laugh out loud.

Do you remember when Facebook posting was merely a one-liner status update with a character limit and after your name was the word “is”?

“Christie is soooooo tired!!!”

Why were we so loud and dramatic in our Facebook infancy?

I always laugh at the ridiculousness that I see from nine and 10 years ago.

“Christie is TEN DAYS TILL TEXAS!!!” Those were the best, weren’t they? When we couldn’t remove that dumb “is” so we just said what we wanted to say anyway and the incorrectness was bliss because we GOT OUR FEELINGS OUT!!! Removing that “is” was our first online social liberation.

I kind of wonder if that’s why there seems to be so many social no-no’s on social media. Perhaps it’s because we have evolved with the changing winds of social media, but now we all have a moral code when it comes to our online presence, and when we scroll through that news feed to see someone breaking the unwritten code, we cringe a little and consider unfollowing them. Eeek. Take the dramatics down a notch.

Personal peeves may vary among us, but there seem to be two camps among social-media-ites in regards to a specific area: those who avoid all politics, and those who show up to stir the pot. Honestly, it wasn’t until the past year that I have actually begun seeing a few people use their social media platform to strike up honest conversation about controversial issues. Until then, I only ever saw a long post followed by 100+ comments and immediately denounced even the viewing of it.

From my experience, I have never seen a Facebook debate change a mind nor change a heart. I have, however, most recently seen honest and respectful conversation take place on social media that was thought-provoking and honoring of humans in the process. This is hope to me.

As the week of July 4th passed, I pondered the social-media realities of our time and all of the political intensity right now. I thought about all the times something has irked me or stirred me up to the point of feeling so tempted to just go off on Facebook about it. I thought about all the people who still love to air their opinions and don’t think twice about it.

And I thought about Jesus.

Jesus was such a radical. If Jesus had a Facebook, I don’t know that He would have been quiet on there, but I do know that His intensity would have carried love, even when His ideas were offensive.

Amidst all the cliches of Western Christianity, I want to pose a question.

What does it look like to seek the heart of God in the age of social media? For Christians, we know that “seeking after God” is always the most important thing. But my question is: What does that look like?

One of the detriments to the Christian name in our society today is that we are know-it-alls who have everything figured out, and we carry around our gavels ready to tell the world where it’s headed. Jesus never did that. Jesus was intense. Jesus was armed with all the knowledge needed to set everyone straight, but He restrained all that He was in order to apprehend the hearts of humanity. And in order to go lower than anyone ever had and ever would in order to achieve that apprehension.

So what would it look like to apprehend the hearts of humanity with our online presence? What would it look like to speak passionately, yet with honor? What would it look like to seek the heart of God in the age of social media platforms?

What would it look like to be the love of God in 2017? It wouldn’t be soft and pedantic. It would be fierce and fiery, yet incredibly hopeful with freedom dripping off every word. Being love always involves both allure and offensiveness. Let us not seek to offend, although we know it will be an inevitable outcome at times. Let us seek to lure, to plead, to demonstrate Christ’s compelling heart to see all people truly know Him through encounter, not mere knowledge.

This is the heart behind To Unearth’s reason for existing. To discover how to continuously seek after God’s heart in the age of online forums and differing perspectives, and to achieve and sustain community in that midst.

What would it look like if we, as people, became this kind of presence?  

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