By Bryan Schackmann the Preaching Minister at the Glendale Church of Christ in Glendale California.
A couple months ago I was going to a performance for one of the teens at the church where I serve.
On the way there this student texted me – “Are you still coming tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m only a few minutes away,” I replied.
“Ok, just to let you know – I’m a bit hurt today and I’m not sure how good it’s going to be. Pray for me LoL.”
The show featured mostly modern dance and ballet. I’m a 34 year old male. You can probably guess I’m not a modern dance or ballet expert. I have no idea what good ballet or modern dance looks like. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be critiquing a high school performance.
I thought the show was fantastic and from my perspective the student danced beautifully.
As I was reflecting on this experience later I realized something – if I had the ability to text someone when I was in high school I would have done the EXACT same thing.
I “played” high school baseball. It’s hard to use the word played because I mostly watched. When friends or family would come to one of my games it was usually embarrassing for me because they got as much game action as I did.
I can see High School Bryan firing off some texts:
“Heard you were coming today – just wanted to let you know I won’t be playing because my arm hurts.”
“This coach and I don’t get along so I won’t be playing.”
“I’m actually the ace of the staff so they want to save me for a better opponent.” (This one would only be sent to one-time attenders because High School Bryan was smart)
I would have done that. In fact, I still do.
Twitter, Facebook, texting, Snapchat, etc. all give us the chance to get OUR versions of stories out there with the push of a few buttons.
This is unbelievably dangerous. We start to believe that our version of every story is true.
In the gospel of John, Jesus is having a fascinating conversation with Pilate that gets to the core of what Jesus is about. In this back and forth that ultimately becomes very frustrating for Pilate, Jesus says this:John 18:37
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
A more literal translation of Jesus’ statement is this: “Everyone being from the truth hears me.”
Truth isn’t just something you know – it’s something you belong to.
Jesus says it’s something you continue to hear. You don’t listen once and you are done. You let the voice of God lead you and form you. We listen through Scripture, through communal discernment and our experience.
This has significant implications. When you own the truth it’s easy to be judgmental and not merciful. When you continue to put your version of everything out there it’s easy to live only in your version of truth.
Living the truth of God is about belonging to something that is way bigger than you.
It’s hearing the voice of the one who created you.
It’s allowing God to lead you.
Is this text I’m sending just furthering my take on a conflict I’m involved in?
Does the way I’m talking about this person on my Twitter feed help bring God’s peace to the world?
We hear a lot these days about Fake News. It’s not just CNN, Fox News or whatever news network we don’t like that create it.
We all do.
We can spend our entire lives telling our version of things, making excuses for ourselves, self-justifying whatever we want… but to be followers of Christ at some point we have to belong to something greater.