I enjoy Twitter. Tweeting is fine, I send something out a couple times a week. I pick up about a new Tweep every week. It’s fun for news and sports updates. Some people can’t have a thought that runs through their head without Tweeting, while others try very hard to show just how profound they can be in just 140 characters. If you look on the front page of my blog you can see my last five Tweets, usually something like “stuck in traffic on I-4” or “enjoying the afternoon with my girls“. Pretty routine stuff. Everybody can’t enjoy the Twitter lifestyle of Charlie Sheen – #WINNING!
A couple weeks ago a friend from a previous life started following me on Twitter. Got an unexpected email to inform me that “@anonymous is following you on Twitter!” Really, I’m not sure why. In real life outside the Twittersphere, there has been no effort at friendship. Just a seemingly random followship request. Maybe it was an attempt to allay some guilt by clicking a button. In any event, now he is my follower. And the next time we ever talk or email, there will be fodder for the conversation – “Hey there! What’s up? I saw that you were stuck in traffic on I-4.“
As I have thought about this arrangement more and more, it has occurred to me – isn’t that the sort of arrangement that we want with Jesus? We want a Twitter arrangement in which our discipleship costs us nothing more than clicking a button. Now I’m a follower of Jesus, it says so on my Twitter home page. Jesus, Conan O’Brien, Oprah and CNN. I follow them all. While following Jesus in this way makes us feel good, it also allows us to gloss over anything He might have to say as it scrolls by in our Twitterstream. So, as Jesus stands and knocks at the door, it is pretty easy to ignore amidst all the other messages we are seeing. Nothing has to get through, nothing has to change, but I am a follower of Jesus and I am able to move on to the next thing.
Communicating with Twitter Jesus would keep him at a distance, not letting him see the real us. That’s safe. What does He expect from 140 characters? So we can give profound one liners about our spiritual life, but remain fundamentally unchanged in our relationship. When life throws a curve, there is a crisis or a need, we can just throw our Tweep Jesus a direct message. “Hey @Jesus, how about a little help with my job situation?” That’s prayer. Since Jesus is lost in the stream, we don’t have to listen – we’ve absolved ourselves of that responsibility – and prayer become a one sided thing. Usually a laundry list of what Twitter Jesus needs to do for us so that our lives can be happy and glorious, like we know he intends.
Twitter may allow us to stay connected with others, but it is not a relationship – although that’s how it is used. You cannot know me in 140 characters, and likewise I cannot know you. Even worse, when you are one of hundreds of other people I follow, the best you’re going to get is a passing glance or maybe a mention. It is control: I can control how much of me you see and I can choose whether or not to notice you. There is no cost in this sort of followship. No investment and very little return. You reap what you sow.
I did that with Jesus and my life turned out to be the house built on sand. Swept away by the storm of life because I had no foundation. Jesus did not know me, despite my works in His name. I wanted to be in control of the nature of my relationship with Jesus. Yet, I’ve found the opposite to be the spiritual reality. What Jesus desires is an opening so that He can know me. For me to stop what I am doing and listen so He can be in control of my sanctification. To offer spiritual disciplines, not as a way of proving my worth, but rather as a way to allow God to stir the Spirit within me. Discipline without expecting anything in return. Releasing control of my relationship with Jesus to Jesus. He, after all, is the one who chose me.
Even if I did push the “follow” button.