The Word on the Week

Social Network

This month will reveal the inside story to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. The launch of the movie anticipates Facebook reaching the 500 millionth user. The film is to be called “The Social Network” with the tagline “You don’t get to 500M friends without making some enemies”. It’s the curious tale of a social outsider who became the gateway for social interaction. All this has happened completely ignoring the usual channels through which power flows: wealth, authority, age, experience. Mark is part of the generation sociologists are calling Millenials. The movies tagline wryly refers to a number of lawsuits he has accumulated from fellow Millenials! His youthful indiscretions and mishaps, though they lost him friends, also made him into the world’s youngest billionaire at age 26. Basically Zuckerberg desperately wants to belong to a group and has invented what has become the largest group in the world! The trouble is that it is high on networking and news but low in discussion and relationships. What does the Bible have to do with all this? The most important things the Bible says are our relationships; first the vertical with God and second the horizontal with our fellow human beings. The lawyer’s words recorded in Saint Luke’s Gospel chapter 10 verse 26 were commended by Jesus and summarise the law for us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbour as yourself.” The lawyer must have been pleased with himself in getting it right but perhaps his pleasure faded when Jesus added “Do this and you will live”! Like many of us it’s not our understanding of what Jesus says that’s difficult, it’s the putting it into practice that is the hard bit. In case the lawyer didn’t get it the illustration of a loathsome Samaritan looking after a wounded and robbed Jew – even to the point of long term care would have been something he would have balked at. Relationships in Scripture come with a price tag! The initial price, the big one, which seals our relationship with a thrice holy God has, for the one who trusts in the work of Jesus on the cross, been already paid. It cost us our sins. It caused Him to become a sin offering. He made a way for love to flow between us and God. We turn away from our sins and, by God’s grace trust, in the influence of the Holy Spirit to forge these helpful relationships between us and those we meet. The challenge is not simply to love our friends but like the Jew and the Samaritan, love our enemies. These relationships require a much more hands on approach than those operating in cyberspace can produce. Emotion, eye contact, the tone of voice cannot be transmitted over the airwaves. We need to copy the Father. (St. Luke Ch.15v20). “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” And that’s something you cannot do on facebook!