Last night I had dinner with some friends and some people I just met, and they introduced me to a wonderful new game. It’s called the phone game. Its actually quite simple. Everyone takes out his/her phone and places it on the table. The first person who touches their phone loses and has to pay for the ENTIRE bill. And since we were 12 deep, the stakes were pretty high. And of course phones were vibrating, chiming, blinking and more. Facebook, twitter, text message notifications all over the place. You want to answer? Go ahead but it’ll cost you. And that night the urge to disconnect from the large group of people around you would have set you back $100.37 (includes the gratuity for a party over 7). And the conversations we had were great. Some were funny, some were deep, some caused us to get to know more about other people and showed me that we were connected to some of the same people in our pasts. The results were amazing. Amazingly human.
In our world, we’ve all seen it. Groups of people huddled together, none of them looking at each other. All of them sitting in bad posture looking at their phones or tablets. Meanwhile, we’ve lost a bit of what it means to be human. We’ve become avatars, photoshopped images, personas, ideas, figures, commodities, personal brands. We’ve become things we consume and in doing so we’ve ceased being human.
And since the people we’re interacting with online aren’t actually people, what we say to them can be as vicious, uncaring, unloving, accusational, hateful and everything else we’re required to be to our fellow image bearers. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen it play out. We’ve seen people hurtfully attack Rick Warren after the death of his son. We’ve seen people use music to accuse Lecrae explicitly of watering down his message and selling out his message to sell units. We’ve seen people turn around and attack the person who said it with harsh and cruel assumptions about his motives, as well as ours for posting the song. And we’ve seen it done in ways that no Christian would ever do to a human being. But that’s it…to another human being. And we’ve stopped seeing each other as that.
I’m not saying we can’t disagree. People who read my posts here remind me all the time that we won’t always agree :-). But when we disagree, remember we are disagreeing with human beings. When we type our responses we must remember that there is an image bearer of God on the other side of that screen. Disagree with Lecrae? Fine! But first know what you’re disagreeing with and second, when you take your claims to him remember its a HIM not an IT on the other end. Disagree with Jopp? Totally allowed. But remember as you type in your Disqus comments that Jopp is a real person created in God’s image and likeness JUST LIKE YOU when you respond. The homie DJ Wade-O got a response from Paula White’s son on the “Fal$e Teacher$” situation. And what was at the core of the response? Why did it resonate with people so much? Because he pointed out that he felt like Shai’s approach lacked a certain sense of humanity.
Does that mean we should shy away from the truth or violate conscience? No. Not at all. I’m for loving truth. I’m for loving people. But when we trade one for the other we’ve lost sight of both. Maybe we need to get off of our phones and get with some human beings. Let’s actually wrestle with what the gospel IS before we reach the very deep and damnable conclusion that someone is “shrinking back” from, selling out or watering down the Gospel. When we get back on our phones and our computers let’s engage with the sense that the person on the other side isn’t a brand – its human being created in the image of God and if they are believers then they are RECREATED more truly in His likeness and are a part of the eternal family of God. And if they’re family, let’s not treat them like the black sheep of the family but as dearly beloved brothers and sisters. Feel free to disagree, but remember – be human.
*Graphic designed by Jermaine “GraphixMain” Haggerty