If there’s something I excel at it’s allowing myself to be distracted. I can find almost anything to do other than the thing I’m supposed to. The big one is writing, I will scurry away here to the back bedroom and type away on my computer ’til the cows come home. I can do it for hours, days, weeks and during NaNoWriMo (national novel writing month) for a month solid. “What do you write about?” You may ask. Well anything and everything. I produce three blog-posts a week across three websites, in addition to that I write articles for the Beds on Sunday website and I am also taking my first forays into the world of fiction writing. There’s always something to write about and if there isn’t something to write there’s something to outline or edit.
Plus there’s the (seemingly) gigantic wastes of time that Twitter and Facebook are. Actually, I have issues with people who write them off as gigantic ‘wastes of time’. I rarely get the opportunity to go out and socialise, so I derive a lot of pleasure and can keep in touch with a lot of friends (and some very far-flung ones at that) through Facebook. I don’t play any of the games or click ‘Like’ on a great number of things; for me it’s purely a place for me to keep up with what my friends are doing and I’m very grateful for a facility that allows me to do that.
Twitter is interesting. I don’t follow the world, I don’t know how you physically read the tweets of thousands of people. I follow just over 220 people, a few organisations (like BBC News) and I find that’s enough. I’m not into playing the numbers game either, I don’t care how many followers I have and I don’t get upset if anyone unfollows me. Twitter is ephemeral in many cases.
So what have distractions and Facebook got to do with faith you may ask? Firstly, I need to ask you where the boundary is between distraction and doing what God wants you to do, because in my life it’s blurred.
I will never be a street evangelist, but there again, a street evangelist might not be able to string a sentence together as well as I can. I view my ability to write as a gift from God and each Friday I write about God, faith and other matters that directly use the gift he’s given me. But what about Monday when I’m writing at Mother of Reinventions or Wednesday when I’m writing Tales from Lewis Lodge? What about writing fan-fiction and the lovely comments I’ve had back from my first efforts there? I’m not using my gift any less, I’m still writing and a growing number of people enjoy what I write. So is all this ‘distraction’ or is it using and honing the talent God has given me? Yes, I will take the point that I don’t always use my talent for God’s glory, sometimes it’s very firmly my own; but I’ll be the first to point who it comes from and who it ultimately goes back to.
Are Facebook and Twitter just massive sources of distraction then, or useful ways you can be a Christian in the twenty first century by availing yourself of the technology available at this time?
I’ve always thought it was perfect timing that Jesus was around during the Roman Empire. What better point in history to pitch up in and use their network of trading routes and invasions to enable the message to spread far and wide throughout the world. Don’t tell me Jesus wasn’t going to use the technology at his disposal to maximum advantage.
Do I think Jesus would be on Facebook and Twitter if we fast forwarded 2000+ years? Yes, I think he would, although I don’t think he’d be replacing words in film titles with the word condom or any other such nonsense you see trending on Twitter. Nor do I think he’d be playing FarmVille; but I don’t honestly know, he could do. After all, even the Saviour of the world’s going to need to put his feet up at the end of a log hard day’s social networking.
Right from the start of his ministry, Jesus went to where ordinary people would be found. He didn’t hang about with the great and the good he went to where the people were and where are they now? A great number of them are on social network sites. There are over 800 million active accounts on Facebook and over 300 million accounts on Twitter. That’s a lot of ordinary people that you have the potential to interact with.
And a lot of people read blogs – including you! I’m using the talent God gave me to communicate my experience of living as a British Christian woman in the twenty first century. I send the links to Facebook, Twitter, Skirt, Digg and Google + and as many other places that I can get it out to. People read and I hope get something useful out of what I write.
I’m not a shining example of Christianity, far from it. But you show me anyone else in the Bible – apart from Jesus – who was. You won’t find one. They are just ordinary people living lives for God wherever they are and whatever they’re doing and I’m doing the same.
So use your skills for God and use these ‘distraction tactics’ as a means of getting your message out there. Use them as the Roman trading routes of our time.
“And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8