This one’s been brewing for a few days not sure where it’ll end up but here we go…
Too often I find myself sucked into the world of youtube/facebook/twitter and it’s very easy to get lost and detached from the very real world around us. It’s easy to hide online in our own safe world where we control what we look at, what we choose to hear and who we choose to interact with. ‘IRL’ (In Real Life) things can be very different, we don’t get to choose who we interact with sometimes or what we hear or who we have to deal with – they’re just there in front of us. It’s our reaction to those situations which will matter – those friendships and real face to face conversations which will define what people think of you and what you think about yourself. This is a very real challenge to myself as I find myself sometimes just loosing hours watching inane rubbish on the internet or waiting to see if someone I haven’t talked to in years has updated their status about whether they like cheese or not…. do I really need to know?!
I think it stems from a desire for connection to others but in this increasingly digital and impersonal culture we revert to the easy option of communicating via a screen. This is easy to do – face to face is much harder, it requires us to put effort in, to be alert, to listen, to engage, to understand and to be vulnerable – all of which seems increasingly adverse to the culture in which we live. We’re supposed to have everything together, to be happy, to not have a care in the world when in reality we’re all broken and messed up in our own little way. Have you ever been asked the question ‘How are you?’ and you’ve replied with ‘I’m fine’… there’s a saying that puts fine as Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional – I can sometimes see sense in this – it’s easier to say ‘I’m fine’ (as it avoids those vulnerable conversations) rather than – I’m rubbish and really struggling with things… can you listen/help?
There’s a real challenge here but also a real opportunity to demonstrate genuine friendship and community amongst not just the church family but to those who are outside that family – who probably need our friendship and love more than we know. Let us not live two lives – one digital and one personal, if anything let your personal live override your desire to be connected online – invest in the friendships around you right here and now. You’ll never know what may happen or when those friendships which you so dearly cherish may end or drift apart – live in the here and now and keep an ear out for what God is saying to you now!
There are two greek words for time, Chronos and Kairos – Chronos being the word referring to the chronological time – how we tell time, and the concept of time as it unfolds – a quantitive term. Kairos however refers to the moment at which in time God steps in or he breaks through into our time and changes a shift either in our own personal moments or across a nation in general. Can you think of any moments at which God has broken through to you in a Kairos moment? What happened and what was the result? I can definitely remember a few moments where either it has been a gentle encouragement or a slap in the face from God as to what he is calling me to do.
In the New Testament kairos means “the appointed time in the purpose of God”, the time when God acts (e.g. Mark 1.15, the kairos is fulfilled). This is important for us to understand because it helps us realise that God is an active God that does frequently break through into our reality and do something amazing, a healing, an answer to prayer, a prophetic word or when his Spirit powerfully meets us. We should be ready to expect that God will speak to us when we meet with him. The following is inspired by the amazing and pioneering movement of missional communities across the UK and US led by a team called 3DM. 3DM is a network of missional practitioners with a heart for 3 Dimensional Movement, towards God, towards each other and towards others. You may recognise their triangle ‘learning shape’ Up, In and Out. If you’re part of St G’s or St Matt’s it’s what their vision is based upon. They have some really useful tools to look at your life and see what God’s doing with it – the key question to ask is ‘What is God saying to me?’ (to which you need to be able/open to hear his voice in your life) and the response question – which is the one we need to take action on – ‘What am I going to do about it?’. (You see God has this plan for the earth and for the rest of humanity and it’s called Jesus working through His church. If you struggle to believe that you are part of God’s plan for salvation check this out:
‘God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence’ Ephesians 3:10-12)
Below is what 3DM call the ‘learning circle’ it’s a picture of what happens and what our response could be to a Kairos moment in our lives:
If you want to learn more about the lifeshapes and how they are amazing tools to see what God’s doing in your lives check out 3DM and some of the teaching/training they have available. For me personally it’s about realising in the here and now, in the real life what is God saying to me/calling me to do – to get my head out of the online world and into the real hurting world that’s all around us. We don’t have forever and we better take stock of today – today is a gift so don’t waste it. Think of all the amazing laughter/experiences/joy you could have today with people around you, close your laptop/phone and get out there. And that’s what I’m planning to do after finishing writing this.
We have been given this life – this reality – let’s not throw it away because existing online is easier or entertainment is out our fingertips but choose to take hold of today – live in the reality that God is alive and kicking and is like a roaring lion urging his children to come home. Be real with those around you – ban the ‘F’ word if you have to! I’m reminded of the lyrics from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody;
“Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.”
Ultimately throughout the ups and downs of this song there’s this emphasis that anywhere the wind blows – it doesn’t affect me – I’m nothing to the wind, it will blow where it likes and I can do nothing to stop it. What is the reality that these lyrics cry out for? I’ll tell you what it is … That God loves you more than anything and sent his Son to prove it, by heaping your punishment onto Jesus he was able to welcome you home as you were originally intended to be. This is the marvelous mystery of christianity – that God would choose to love you despite your flaws and failings. He loves you as his own son or daughter and is longing, longing for the day at which you are back in his arms. We live in THIS reality and this is the truth to which I give witness. (John 8:32)
Learn to spend time with God this week , learning to hear his voice and his love for you – rest and meditate/think over and over again on the fact that you are extravagantly loved, extravagantly loved! This is the reality and identity we need to cling to when life sucks – because there will be moments that do – but God doesn’t change he’s still there loving you and holding you through the calm and through the storms of life… let’s not ignore His love for us and the relationship he’s offering/giving to us by hiding in our little worlds whatever they may be.