Yesterday at my church we started a new sermon series titled #struggles: following Jesus in a selfie-centered world (this series comes from the good people at life.church). Some might argue that using something as modern as a hashtag is pandering or even selling out to contemporary culture. Jesus would have never done that if he were preaching today, would he?
At the end of the day, we’ll never know. There can be convincing arguments on either side by folks with long titles after their names, and we’ll still never know, because Jesus lived in the first century, not the 21st century. But here’s why I suspect he wouldn’t have been opposed to using hashtags and emojis if he were preaching today.
Look at the parables. The complexity of Paul’s language, grammar and syntax far outstrips the simplicity of Jesus’ own teaching. Jesus taught simply, using popular, contemporary methods. Instead of expounding verse-by-verse through the book of Leviticus, Jesus instead chose to convey the Kingdom of God as a farmer sowing his seed, a woman looking for a lost coin, an enemy sowing weeds among the wheat. Those weren’t high and lofty abstract ideas. Those were common, everyday experiences. You could make the argument that emojis would be too simplistic to convey the deep truths of God, but some could make that same argument about the Kingdom of God being equated with a mustard seed or a haul of fish.
Jesus might have chosen not to leverage social media were he alive today, but he had the crowds, the masses to do so. Would those have been Twitter followers today? We’ll never know, but I suspect he would have found a way to redeem and leverage the common medium of communication of today. To a mass of uneducated farmers and fishers in the first century, he leveraged the medium they responded to best: stories.