Part 2 of series:
Would Jesus Have a Facebook Page?
In one of yesterday’s posts, I asked the question: Would Jesus have a Facebook page? I was moved to ask this question by a statement in a USA Today article on technology in the church. In this article, Drew Goodmanson, the CEO of a company that helps Christian organizations use the Internet in their ministries, confidently said that Jesus would not have a Facebook page. This got me thinking. If Jesus were on earth today, would he really have a Facebook page? If so, why? If not, why not?
In typical fashion, my answer to “Would Jesus have a Facebook page?” is “Yes . . . and no.” Remember, I spent a good chunk of my life in academia, where simple answers are rare. But, more to the point, I believe there are good reasons for believing that today’s Jesus would have a Facebook page, even as there are good reasons for believing that he would not. Today, I’ll focus on some reasons why Jesus would have a Facebook page.
Jesus’ Communication Strategy in Cultural Context
When I picture Jesus communicating with people, my imagination is fueled by the films I saw in Sunday school. The Anglo-Saxon Son of God is dressed in clean Bible-land robes and dustless sandals, with long brown hair and an impressive beard. He speaks in hallowed tones to small groups of people in the countryside or small villages. Surely, this Jesus would not have a Facebook page even if he were on earth today. No, he’d be dressed like, well, Jesus, and speak in hallowed tones to folk who lived in the country.
Yet, when I put aside my childish views of Jesus and think about his ministry, I’m struck by how he communicated in the modes of his day. Jesus told stories, gripping stories, in fact. He engaged in theological dialogue. He provided dramatic illustrations of his teaching in the form of miracles and even exorcisms. Unlike many of the rabbis and popular philosophers of his day, Jesus didn’t sit back and wait for people to come to him. Rather, he spoke to people where they were, both literally and figuratively.When I take this Jesus and plop him down in 2012, it seems at least possible if not likely that Jesus would communicate in the modes of our culture. Would this include Facebook? Perhaps. Twitter? Maybe. We should expect Jesus to use the means of communication available to him, unless these means were somehow intrinsically opposed to his message. (I’ll consider this possibility in my next post on this topic. However, if it is clear that Jesus would not have a Facebook page for theological or strategic reasons, then it seems reasonable to conclude that his followers shouldn’t either.)
Jesus as the Incarnation of the Word of God
Christians believe that Jesus was far more than simply a “good teacher.” We confess that he was (and is) the very Word of God made flesh. We affirm that, in Jesus, God entered into human life fully, though without sinning. Thus, from a theological point of view, if Jesus were to be incarnate in 2012, he would be fully engaged in this life. This suggests, it seems to me, that Jesus would be fluent in the language of the Internet, that he would have a Facebook page, and maybe even a blog.
Now I freely admit that this seems strange, even counter-intuitive, because I think of Jesus so much in terms of his own culture. He was the Word Incarnate in first-century Galilean Jewish culture. Yet, if Jesus were to show up today, I doubt he’d be wearing a costume from the annual Christmas pageant. He’d be dressed like any other 30-year-old in today’s culture (whatever that means!). And, given his mission to communicate and connect with people, I expect he would do this through the means of social media.
Unless, of course, there is something intrinsically sinful about social media, something that would be so inconsistent with the message and ministry of Jesus that he intentionally rejected it. I’ll consider this possibility in the next post in this series.