I recently heard a talk by Shane Hipps on a podcast from Mars Hill Bible Church. He was talking about how we are so quick to use our cell phones to communicate, and it will never really replace real relationships. Now, I am preaching to myself here...I text people ten feet away! I am constantly "talking" with text messages, carrying on full conversations with just a few taps. But I have come to realize what Shane was pointing out, that it will never replace our need for fellowship. And as Christians, and as a church, we are made to be communal. Our hearts thrive on fellowship, and community. And the cell phone can actually enable us to become distant and detached from people we should be face-to-face with, by enabling us to skip the conversation and get right to the message. A friend of mine once said "I love texting, because you can just skip right through all the 'how are you's' and just say 'meet me at 7'." At the moment, I thought that was accurate, even correct. But I have changed my mind.
A friend of mine recently lost her dad. I found out the same day it had happened, and I was going out the door to have coffee with another friend. Instantly, I thought 'I need to be with her" and the next thought was "Are you kidding? What are you going to say?". Fear crept its way into my thinking, but I knew I still had to go see her. So I swallowed hard and chose some flowers at Safeway to take by. The whole way over, I was fighting God. How dare He call me to go see her. I was so inadequete. I was tongue tied just thinking about it. How do you go comfort your twenty year old friend, when she has just lost her dad? I had hardly recovered from the shock of his death, and was in no way equipped to extend compassion or love to her. My well was dry.
But God's grace is sufficient. He overwhelmed me with extra grace and love. And when I knocked on the door, I found no words were even needed. I opened my arms, and we cried.
It was enough.
Shane talks about a similar incident in his podcast, and he notes "How do you say that with a cell phone? Just heavy breathing? A blank text message?" No. You cannot substitute community for technology. Never will a text message telling me "meet me at 7" substitute for crying with a friend who needs open arms, not an open cell phone.
So dont let the cell phone become a voice. Often extending my faith to my friends means shutting my mouth and moving my feet. Being love, being compassion. Often it means shutting my phone and getting in my car and going to meet a hurting girlfriend. Or having honest dialogue with a non christian friend.
So I'll continue to text. But when God calls me to reach...I'll hang up.