Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Tag

Jesus, Facebook, and Me

  The Monday after Easter Sunday this year, Jesus posted this on my Facebook timeline:

Nan, you know your personal hell? It has left the building. Just you and me now. Peace, dear woman.

I’m sure you’re wondering if I made this up, but it’s true.  Jesus Benyosef has a Facebook account.  For those skeptics, all I can tell you is that there is a Jesus Benyosef, a John TheBaptist Benzachar, Andrew Barjonas, Mary and Martha Bethan, John MacZebedee, and a whole host of others who appear to be “walking through the gospel” in real time, or at least, Facebook time.  They talk about biblical events as if they are happening present-day and do so in present-day language, allowing us “friends” to participate in the gospel events with them.

I was surprised by Jesus Benyosef’s message to me, and even more surprised by my immediate response to it.  I was in my office at school when I checked my Facebook account (instructors have to take breaks, too), and immediately, my eyes began to fill with tears.  Had I been at home, I probably would have had a good cry.

This  puzzled me, because I have a very good and happy life, and while I have had a few seasons of “personal hells,”  right now I’m in the clear.  So why did I start to cry at the suggestion of Jesus that my personal hell has left the building?

After some reflection, I think the reason that Jesus Benyosef’s kind words affected me was because they reminded me of words I had heard before, yet they were communicated in today’s language:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27, NIV).

Despite the different wording, I know that these words are true both now and in the future, whenever I need them.  And given that I live in a frail and fallen world, I’m sure that there will come a time when I will hold on to these words again tightly, knowing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are meeting me where I am, in all my brokenness, and encouraging me in language that I can relate to.  Jesus isn’t stuck in King James land, unable to talk to a 21st-century me.  He is here; he is now; he is relevant.

I like having Jesus as a friend, on Facebook and in life, because he knows how it feels to be human, yet he knows how to deliver comfort from the Father through the Holy Spirit in just the right way at just the right time. His words of comfort aren’t limited to just the Bible but can come through a song, a written note, or even a Facebook timeline post from a friend.

Jesus Benyosef’s words on my timeline are true for you, too:

(insert your name here), you know your personal hell? It has left the building. Just you and me now. Peace, dear friend.

 ~by Nan Kuhlman

Fear & Facebook

                After the tragic earthquake in Japan a few weeks ago, the following post kept popping up on my Facebook from some well-meaning Christian friends:

                Sept. 11th (New York), Jan. 11th (Haiti), and March 11th (Japan)…Luke 21:10-11 – Then Jesus said to his disciples:  “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven”…Jesus says, “For behold, I come quickly.”  So ask yourself r u ready?  Sad to say, many won’t repost this message.

                Several things about this post bother me, but my biggest concern is that it promotes fear, not love and assurance.  The motivation behind such a post is to spur the reader to pray the sinner’s prayer and get saved.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the concern that the posters have for others.  I’m just not sure that the Triune God wants fear to be the motivation for a relationship.  Love is the basis of any healthy relationship, and our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is no different.

                Here’s what the Apostle John had to say about love:  “God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day -our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.  There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love” (I John 4:17-18, The Message).

                My husband and I are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary.  I remember when he asked me to marry him on bended knee at an intimate French restaurant.  Can you imagine how he would have felt if I would have responded, “Yes, I’ll marry you, but only because I’m scared to death that you’ll punish me if I don’t.”  That’s the sentiment that this Facebook post sends about the Triune God – if a reader doesn’t choose to pray the prayer, make a decision, and get saved, God will make him pay.

                The truth is that the Triune God desires a relationship with each one of us but isn’t willing to coerce us to make it happen.  The freedom to choose is God’s gift to us, just like a lover desires to be chosen by his beloved.  Either way we choose, the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit remains unchangeable and ever hopeful.  Their desire is for reconciliation and relationship, not punishment.

                So if I were to rewrite this post, this is what I would say:

                Sept. 11th (New York), Jan. 12th (Haiti), and March 11th (Japan)…John 16:33 – “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (NLT).  Thank you, Jesus, for never leaving nor forsaking us even in our deepest, darkest despair.

~by Nan Kuhlman               

Facebook

Could Facebook be a gift of the Holy Spirit to humanity? There are a lot of funny videos and emails circulating that make fun of the annoying aspects of the social networking site – but there is also something profoundly relational taking place with Facebook, and the Holy Spirit is all about relationship.

It’s not just Facebook, it’s all the social networking sites that allow people to connect and relate around the parts of their lives that inspire them: photography, music, movies, and even theology.

Think about it this way: for thousands of years most human beings lived their lives in relationship and connection to the same people. Living in tribes, villages, and small cities, most people developed deep, lasting relationships with their extended families and people their same age with whom they grew up, worked, lived, and even died together.

The Industrial Revolution and the mobility of modern society have changed all that. Most of us grew up with one group of people, went to school with another group, and have lived and worked with several different groups over the years since. In the midst of all that mobility we lost contact with almost everyone we knew except for our immediate family and, perhaps, one or two close friends.

Which do you think represents the Triune Life in which Jesus has included humanity: relationships that are maintained over years or relationships that last a little while and then vanish?

Here, at the dawn of the 21st century we find ourselves in a society of fragmented relationships, where people come together for a little while and then go their separate ways. In the midst of this relational fragmentation social networking on the internet has come along and suddenly we are reconnecting and entering once again into relationship with people who were once central to our lives.

We are reconnecting with best friends from high school, college classmates, and people we ministered with in other times and places.

For the first time in over 100 years it is now possible, through networks like Facebook, for people in our highly mobile society to stay in relationship with childhood friends and extended family for their entire lives. My kids may very well use social networking to keep many of their same friends for the next 70-80 years.

The Holy Spirit is the facilitator of relationships. He binds together the heart of the Father and Jesus – and his life of relationship has been poured out on the human race in Jesus (Acts 2:17).

On Facebook I see relationships being re-established, maintained, and even strengthened by the ingenious work of creative people. That leads me to think that I must be seeing the gift and ministry of the Holy Spirit expressed in our lives.

~ by Jonathan Stepp

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