Interactive and Alone
Life in the 21st century can provide complete insulation from having to deal with people in a face-to-face transaction. In this modern age, almost everything can be done on-line. Now anyone can shop for anything “on-line” and receive it through the mail. An individual can send an email to a grocery store, pay by credit card, and a clerk will fill the order, and put it in one’s car upon arrival. Banking and bill paying is done electronically. Questions can be answered by the recorded voice of Siri. A GPS can direct one to a destination without ever knowing the individual seeking directions or having any conversation exchanged. Housing is now behind “gated” entries and condos and apartments have security-coded gates for anyone hoping to enter.
We measure our friends in double or triple digits based on how many people view our Facebook page. Many choose to go to church by “live stream” or broadcast media so that they can remain in the comfort and sanctity of their home. Movies are often watched on various movie outlets at home to keep from fighting the crowds at theaters and on the roads.
Sadly, these “conveniences” are not connecting us. They are separating us into isolated islands of personalities that long for meaningful relationships and yet, have no idea how build a bridge toward friendship by looking people in the eye while conversing or what to talk about if thrust into a group of people. Even though we live among large population groups, we are connected to very few people by our own choices. The greater tragedy is that is one of the reasons churches are declining. People do not feel comfortable inviting people to visit church with them. They have no confidence in how to being a friendship much less how to address a simple “ask” to come to church or hear a conversation about Jesus. And, many feel awkward in a crowd they do not know and in a place where they are not accustomed to attending.
Gladyce, a widow, attended church faithfully every Sunday. She would get there about 20 minutes early to sit and pray. This was her ritual. Just her and Jesus. She had been doing this for years.
Then one Sunday a new family sat behind her. This was disturbing. She said, “Oh, well, they’re visitors and they may not be back next week anyway.” She thought she could put up with the small feet kicking at her back and the toy cars being driven on the top of her pew and loud whispers for lifesavers and trips to the bathroom that interrupted her prayer for one Sunday. Much to her dismay, one week turned into two and two into a month and she realized that they were here to stay. She weighed her options. She could change pews, but “no, that was where she and her husband had always worshiped.” She wasn’t willing to give up her pew. She could turn around and glare at them. She could pray at home for 20 minutes.
One Sunday before worship was really bad. “Church was for quiet meditation and reflection,” she thought. She looked at the parents and the squirming children. She realized that the parents looked tired. “Perhaps I should just let them be,” she thought. Instead of yelling, she managed a small smile. The next Sunday she took lifesavers and offered them. The next Sunday she asked their names. She found out the oldest liked horses, the youngest liked cars and the middle one liked books. The next Sunday she was disappointed that they weren’t there. It didn’t seem like church without the tap of little feet at her back. Next week she invited the family over for Sunday Brunch and from there on a fast friendship grew. (Copied). Did not our Lord command, “Love one another”…..! Amazing how that changes everything and everyone!