-by Pastor Mike Middaugh
I have heard rumors that when you used to pick up a phone there would actually be a person on the other end of the line – that you might even talk out loud to them. Going way back in time, you even had to ask that person (who might even know you by name, gasp!) to connect you to the person you wanted to call.
Today however, it is not so. One of the shared frustrations of contemporary American life is trying to reach a real person when calling “customer service.” I was thoroughly surprised on Monday when I called UPS and actually reached a real live person after punching through just one menu. Mentally prepared to be on hold for a while, or have to deal with three or four different menus, each with as many options, I couldn’t believe it when I actually got to talk to representative so quickly.
Sadly, I was surprised by human contact. We have become programmed to expect that getting help will be hard and that finding a reasonable person who can fix a problem might be nearly impossible.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Siri is great when she listens, I love being able to tell my car to dial a phone number for me, and it is nice to make a reservation online, but there are certain aspects of human connection and empathy that are becoming harder to find. One result of this is that it is becoming easier and easier to live anonymously, to avoid contact with others. Good discussions are being had about whether Social Media applications are helping or harming our relationships.
This being the environment we live in, I think it is important to consider how our spiritual life is affected. To answer this question we might have to answer another. What is Christianity all about anyway?
Some might say it is about living life God’s way, or doing good deeds or attending church on Sunday. If this is the case, then it becomes just one more set of activities we can check of the list – much like fighting through the menus on the phone, Christianity can be moved into the realm of the impersonal – just knowledge in our head and duties we perform.
But I think it is vital we avoid letting this happen. As Jesus called his disciples he didn’t give them a list of things they must do. He simply said “Come and See.” His point was that there was nothing he could say that would make them believe. What they needed could not be summed up in a few bullet points or in a list of rules. His invitation was about walking with him, experiencing life with him, and ultimately getting to really know him.
In a world that is anonymous, Christianity is intensely personal. It is a chance to know and be known, and not just within a church community, but with God. That is what it is all about. More than anything else Christianity is knowing Jesus. Not just knowing about him. But knowing him. And through him, knowing God.