Wherever you are, be there!

Summer is almost here! No doubt many readers are looking forward to their holiday; a couple of weeks in the sun, exploring beautiful countryside or one of the thousands of great towns and cities around the world. Will you be sending a postcard to friends and family saying “Wish you were here”?

Increasingly the traditional postcard is being replaced by social media. A picture on Facebook or Instagram means that those back home can share the experience of your holiday with you; even comment on your selfie with a landmark like the Eiffel Tower in the back ground just moments after it is taken. Therefore, why bother to send a postcard which will be old news when it arrives, possibly after you yourself get home!

Over the last few months I have read numerous articles[i] warning of the dangers of technology overtaking our lives, reducing our ability to concentrate or to engage meaningfully with the people and environment we find ourselves in. These are not articles written by luddites or technophobes; often they are written by articulate, young technophiles. There is a growing recognition that technology, far from deepening relationships, has a tendency to make communication superficial and reduce our attention span. Some have experimented with a ‘digital detox’ – deliberately reducing their social media interactions. Invariably this produces an initial sense of anxiety as they fight the compulsion to continually check Facebook or Twitter. Gradually, as the withdrawal symptoms subside, they report rediscovering the enjoyment of family relationships, becoming more appreciative of the natural beauty of what is around them.

No doubt you would be gutted to miss a key event, such as a wedding, for someone you cared deeply about. Yet tragically many of us miss out on much of our own lives because we are distracted by a 4inch screen! We may be physically present, yet not really be there. As you look forward to your summer holiday will your only memories be those mediated by a camera lens and Facebook, or will you relish each moment. Will the technology enhance the experience, or will it become the experience. Some may choose to disconnect completely from the digital world for a week or two while they are away. That may seem unrealistic for most of us. Regardless of what you decide remember:

Wherever you are, be there!

 

This blog post featured in the June 2014 edition of Hook Focus

 


[i] Be off, you Facebook demons. I’m on a digital detox – Josh Glancy:  http://thetim.es/1jXljg9 ,

I admit it. I’m bereft when my iPhone’s out of sight – Janice Turner:  http://thetim.es/QF30kz ,

Numb Generations – Kara Powell: http://youtu.be/1tI24zUrcTY

 

Whatever you did for the least of these… you did for me!

As we continue our exploration of the letter from James we are discovering that it is intensely practical.  James wants us to understand that genuine faith in Christ is not simply intellectual assent, rather it is a response that so transforms our hearts that it produces changed behaviours. James writes: ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.’ (James 2:26 NIV2011) Good deeds don’t make us right with God, but good deeds that are the outworking of faith are the evidence that we are right with Christ.

Since James was the brother of Jesus it is perhaps not surprising that so much of what is taught in this letter has parallels in the gospels. Jesus told a parable where he likened Judgement Day to a farmer separating sheep from goats. Jesus said that the sheep represented those who would be invited to share in Christ’s inheritance; whilst the goats represent those cast into the eternal fire. The basis for the judgement was how they had treated Jesus, in other words their deeds. Both groups in the parable seem surprised by this and ask for an explanation. Jesus’ response is: ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40 NIV2011)

Jesus shows how acting with compassion to those in society who are marginalised, despised, sick or needy is in fact to show practical love towards him. People who act in this way are true Christ followers and get to share his reward. Those who ignore those who are vulnerable in society however are judged to be ignoring Christ and are condemned for it.

In the parable the marginalised included the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, and the prisoner. What vulnerable people do you come into contact with on a day by day basis that Jesus would point to today? What acts of compassion are you able to do that would win Christ’s commendation: ‘whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’?

This blog post featured in the June 2014 edition of Lifelines