“Jesus’ Facebook Account”
(What Would Jesus Tweet?)
How a two-thousand year old tale dusts itself off in the era of the Digital
On January 26, 1962, the first demonstration of John Logie Baird’s invention went public. The great grandmother of our internet-capable, flat screen, surround-sound T.V displayed her abilities as the onlookers marveled for the first time moving pictures inside a box. Almost a century before that, Bell patented the first telephone created after a series of misfits in communication. I search these things in memory, yet the dates written – I choose not to boast. Google’s was merely eleven clicks away. Thanks to Larry Page and Sergery Brin, we can now have access to the world’s data in just a few nudges of our fingers. Technological Revolution is rapidly on the go. In fact, Eric Schmidt, the president of Google today, recently introduced a software called Google Voice. It could, Schmidt says, “translate languages automatically.” Imagine, using your I-Phone’s Google to talk to someone you merely know, from a different tongue, and swap stories as if you were of one tribe. I don’t know, but the development in the technological field is so fast – and I’m wondering what our world would be like ten to fifteen years from now. I just learned how to use Photoshop, Audition and Premier, and I still have light years to go to perfect the craft. (Yep, I’m a technological cave man!)
What will be relevant decades from now? Will the gospel work in the digital age? How will Christians present the timeless Jesus to the changing times?
With the advancement of technology comes its dark side: materialism (or digitalism if that’s the case) over spirituality. We who live in the era of Facebook accounts and Blackberry mobiles (and the recent digital craze: I-Pad) find it hard to reconcile the reality of a spiritual realm. We point the metaphysical arrow to parapsychology and fairy tales: a myth long forgotten in the real world. Who would ever believe in the redemption of humankind through the sacrificial death of a Jewish carpenter on that Roman cross? That’s just like saying Peter Pan is real and he’s out there riding his magic carpet giving gifts to good boys and girls. That’s both impossible and unrealistic in this tangible world. Even the children will find it hard to believe in such child’s tale when these little pumpkins themselves would rather stick to their PSPs and World of Warcraft? The emerging people of today creates a fantasy world of their own in the form of Pet Society, Weapons of War and Virtual Realities. Where would Jesus’ world fit in? What if Jesus played Pokemon Heart Gold as a child in this era? What if He had His own Facebook and Twitter account? Will more people come to faith?
“Theology,” someone have said “is looking at the world the way God sees it.” If so, we as theologians in this world – can see that Jesus uses both Facebook and digital technology for His cause. We can see Jesus’ words in blogs posted by Christian writers, His songs in different podcasts and playlists, His powerful voice in televisions and internet feeds, His heart in online evangelisms. We look to the world through lenses of God, and sees that the world is still His. Looking at today’s technology is still a matter of perspective. Others may say that scientific advancement is “evil,” it lures us away from God. It may. However, we cannot just burn away all the cellphones and all the computers and spell it as the answer to holiness. No. We can still choose to look at technology as an avenue for God’s glory to shine. Just like God using Babylon in Daniel’s time, or even the Romans in Jesus’ time. We can even see that in history, Alexander the Great Hellenized Asia, Africa and Europe – and advanced his empire’s technology: Greek culture and language. The continents used Greek during his period. But then, the early christians saw this as a point of grace: they used the Greek language to advance God’s kingdom, wrote down the Bible in Greek, and used its culture (knowledge-seekers) to ignite the minds of the people about Christ. Same as our time,we can either use, or be used by, technology.
As a matter of fact, Facebook is now being utilized to publish this message, DSL to transmit it to your computer screen, computer monitor for you to see it, a keyboard and a mouse to respond to it. (I’m still waiting for Google Voice to be perfectly used in online translation of languages for missionary work.)
Technology is useful; but Jesus’ reminder would be very helpful in this matter: that these things are but temporary. It is so true that these things can become addiction; Biblically speaking, this is idolatry. In using these, we need to be very careful at the subtle lures of the digital. But like any idols, the problem is not on the object; it’s in the heart. We fix our hearts on Jesus, and merely use these as a means to magnify His name. We still glory in the eternal. And looking at the world with these set of eyes make a difference far more timeless than this age could ever comprehend.
A question hits me hard knowing that I’ve failed even before I could utter a word: for what am I using technology? For whom?
First Published: April 15, 2010