While I have become discriminating about the e-mail messages I spend time reading, I always open forwards from a childhood friend because she is the great collector of things wise and hilarious. Her latest forward is titled, “You Know You’re Living in 2007 When …” and I printed it out to stick up in my office. I know the parents I meet will smile as they read this:
You Know You’re Living in 2007 When…
• You text message your son, telling him it’s time to eat and he messages back from his bedroom — asking what’s for dinner.
• You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.
• Your grandmother asks you to send a JPEG of your newborn so she can create a screen saver.
• You wake up at 2 a.m. to go to the bathroom and check your e-mail on the way back to bed.
• You chat several times a week with a stranger from South Africa but you haven’t spoken to your neighbor in a year.
• You’ve started tilting your head sideways to smile 🙂
I hope you’re grinning. I also hope you’re filtering out my message. We live in a most amazing age. Take this week: I got up early on Thursday, got on the Internet and learned that NASA officials said Wednesday they will review psychological screening assessments of astronauts after the recent arrest of Lisa Nowak, who is now charged with attempted first degree murder. After getting a quick look in on other distressing news, I sent a couple e-mails to family and friends before hurrying upstairs to ready myself for work.
While I graduated from college without ever touching a computer, I and millions like me have embraced the Computer Age with gusto. Yet, I am increasingly philosophical about it all, for if we do not make concerted efforts to reach out to people around us — getting up out of our computer chairs and making an effort to interact with people — we will become isolated individuals as never before.
We can sit in our homes and let the world come to our doorsteps, never really talking with people or including them in our daily lives. We can pay our bills online, make donations, leave brilliant thoughts on public bulletin boards, learn how to download astonishing amounts of information, create personal Web sites, and still be the loneliest people in the world.
Those of us with a history of church involvement, and who feel called to introduce our life experiences to those with no experiences with other Christians in any sort of organized way, are burdened as never before. We see fewer and fewer people viewing church experiences as central and important to their family lives, but we know from personal experience how truly wonderful and life-saving it can be.
Perhaps the best news is this: God is timeless and ageless and constantly on duty. He lives and breathes through his people and cares as much for modern man as he did the ancients. And while we view ourselves as thoroughly modern and insightful and sophisticated, God reminds us that the human heart is fashioned after his own. He longs for interaction with us and pre-sets our needs … for family, belonging, touch, food, caring, kindness, singing, crying, serving, spiritual longing and loving … all to insure that personal interaction with us.
These most basic of human needs are what prompt us to head in the direction of other believers — the very people who accept the challenge to administer the gift of God’s love. When you spend time with other Christians you will discover a place where you can sing. Borrow books. Cook meals for hungry teens. Study the timeless messages of God. Find a hug and a listening ear. Learn what he is like and how he operates in this modern, Internet-dominated world of ours.
Ultimately, the gift of the modern church and home-based Christian groups is the people — there to stand beside you when life feels too tough to face, challenge you when it is time to make changes, drive your kids to events, call you with encouragement, pray for you, save a chair for you when you are running late, and bring you a pizza when there is no time to cook. Those of us who have been “churchy” are aware that society is changing — asking us to revamp our programs and methodologies to meet the need of today’s people.
Stand back from the computer this weekend and check out a church or accept the invitation to attend a home-based Bible study. There are great things to experience and you will be surprised.
Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and speaker who makes her home on Whidbey Island. Her award-winning column has run for 12 years in Western Washington newspapers. E-mail comments and speaking requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.