Christian community, Christianity, Church, faith, Feast of the Transfiguration, social isolation, social media
In our social media driven world I sometimes find myself wondering “WWJP?” or “What would Jesus post?” I do believe that the positives of social media outweigh the negatives but there are negatives and these negatives do have effects. I recently heard a news story on how Facebook is having an impact on the number of people attending high school reunions – actually lessening the number. One reason that some people are giving is that they no longer feel the need for a reunion in order to catch up on things because they have already seen it all on Facebook! The more primary reason though (and this is more on the side of negative effects of social media, I think) is that via Facebook people have come to realize how much they actually disagree with old classmates on certain things and how they can’t seem to get beyond that.
Here is a danger of social media. Because I am looking at a screen while on social media and not actually sitting across a table from a live person having a discussion, I can – all the more easily – fall into the temptation of reducing a person made in God’s image to just one issue. Full relationship and interaction is lost in favor of a focus on whatever that one particular issue might be. Social media is a paradox – it connects yet it also separates and isolates. In the focus on that one issue presented on a flat, one-dimensional screen I forget the full humanity of the person on the other side – a human person who can never be reduced to a one dimensional, cut-out reality – a person who might be a parent or a spouse, someone who has had his or her own experiences in life, someone who might be selflessly serving his or her community in some particular way, maybe even a person who is just having a bad day. These are but a few examples. A human person can never be reduced to a one-dimensional reality yet this illusion can be given through social media.
The Transfiguration is neither flat nor one dimensional. Jesus invites Peter, James and John up the mountain and even within his encounter and relationship with the Father. Time itself seems to bend as Jesus is seen conversing with Moses and Elijah. Peter – as any of us would – wants so desperately to remain in this moment and space! Yes, because the glory of the Son is revealed and the voice of the Father is heard but also because the depth of true relationship is experienced in the Transfiguration! Jesus is fully human just as he is fully divine and now, through Christ, we are adopted sons and daughters of God. The relationship revealed in the moment of Transfiguration is also a relationship we are meant for in Christ. We are meant for full relationship with God and one another and are not meant to be reduced and constricted to a one dimensional reality.
In the vision of Daniel, the “one like a son of man” only receives dominion in and through his relationship with the “Ancient One” sitting on the throne. He also receives it within a gathering of “the court”, within a community. Peter, in his letter, remarks how “we” do not follow concocted myths because “we” have been eyewitnesses of the majesty of Christ and “we” possess the prophetic message that is true. None of this is one-dimensional. All of this is within true relationship and true community!
So much in our world wants us to separate, to isolate and to reduce one another to one dimensional realities. To this the voice of the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Listen to the voice of Christ – a voice that always sought out, a voice that never reduced the other person. Peter, who entered that moment of Transfiguration, writes, “Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Even as we live in a world that reduces, we hold on in hope for that day when we live in full relationship with God and one another and we set our lives by that hope.