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If Jesus Christ was on Twitter…

Sola Fagorusi

Allow
me a departure this week from the usual sway of new media collision
with social issues. Instead, I like to plunge into the often calm but
profoundly contentious river of religions. Several years ago as a
teenager, my mother’s friend handed me a book. Neatly inscribed across
the face of that book was the title – In His Steps: What Would Jesus do?
Throughout the book, there was a constant throwback at what Christ’s
activity would have been like in particular circumstances. It in turn
explained what the expectations from his disciples were. Written by
Charles Sheldon, it had layers of socialism for Christians in it.
History holds that Jesus was born circa 6
B.C,  following an immaculate conception of a virgin. His life is
captured in the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Jesus. In just three and a half years he founded Christianity, a way of
life which continues to thrive today. He dressed the way people during
his earthly sojourn dressed. He ate what they ate and he spoke in the
language of the people, using the most potent communication tools of
parables, examples and clear instructions to further the propagation of
the gospel; one that he called his “father’s work.” He also engaged in
theological discussions,  which were the norm among the leaders of the
synagogue back then. If Jesus were to have had that same assignment at
an age like ours, would he have harnessed the new media tools that are
abundantly available to do his work? Would he have been on Facebook?
Would Christ have kept a blog to give updates of his numerous
itineraries? When Jesus met Peter by the Sea of Galilee and asked him to
follow him; would he have had to explain to him that he was not talking
about Twitter but literally asking him to follow!

Since the goal was to spread the gospel
to the innermost part of the earth, it is not unlikely that Christ would
have been quick to harness social media tools to further his aspiration
to depopulate the kingdom of darkness. Communication is fundamental in
religion and since that is what the new media offers; it follows clearly
that a 140-character platform like Twitter would have served Jesus.
Social networks are the perfect idea-communication media for this age.
Christians understand that the Bible is
filled with verses that are thick with meanings and with potentials to
bring freedom to the captive. These verses,  as status updates and
tweets,  would have served hugely for that assignment. And since
Christians are the ambassadors of Christ on earth today, it’s fine to
expect that they embrace the use of these media to untie knotty biblical
concepts, to bring solution to those yearning for it and to in faith
bring healing to the world like Christ did to the Roman Centurion’s
servant without a physical visit to his house. “Truly I tell you, I have
not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”, Christ quipped
afterwards.
I think it’s brilliantly hilarious to
conjecture on the numbers of followers Christ would have had on Twitter
and the number of people who would have liked his Facebook fan pages;
ditto the number of comments that a single blog post would have
attracted. Christ’s YouTube Channel and the several hits it would have
had, especially after his parable sessions,  would have been a delight
given that even the Pharisees and the Sadducees of this age would
equally engage  the issues and the arguments would go to and fro until
an answer is found. The Zacchaeus’ of Jericho at that time would
possibly not have had to climb trees but instead tweet at the master to
catch his attention. Telling from the Bible as well, Christ had a sense
of humour. What would his tweets about the only grateful leper of the
total ten healed have been since Twitter literally encourages display of
wit?
Certainly, we all would have loved to
read Jesus’ tweets. And it would have been interesting to know who Jesus
would follow on Twitter. What can however be done now is for his true
disciples here on earth to continue the assignment; reaching out to
people in the convenience of their rooms,  using today’s new media with a
sense of huge responsibility. These media are the perfect means of
engagement. There are places too where the hard truth can be told very
quickly. Christ was never known to sit down expecting people to come to
him; instead,  he went to find them. Unlike several rabbis during his
time, he went about doing good – healing the sick, bringing the message
of hope to the people.
I am familiar with the Facebook exploits
of the Contemporary Worship Service of St. Michael’s (Anglican)
Cathedral, Kaduna — for a medium-size and growing community with a very
fluid population of young people who are always in and out of town. The
social network continues to offer them an opportunity to keep tab with a
church they have come to love. Like the Methodists, the Anglican Church
also has its share of debate around new social issues. Later this week,
the second Global Anglican Future Conference, will hold in Nairobi,
Kenya. The rise of secularism in the church is their interest,
especially the promotion of various sexual preferences. Maybe it’s time
to also throw such new media-related issues into the discussion and show
the way to churches like the United Methodists and others as the year
2016 date of the United Methodist is way too far.
The United Methodist Church is currently
engaged in a debate as to the spiritual propriety of receiving the Holy
Communion online. Theirs is an open communion which invites all
worshipers in the church to come and partake. The controversy is whether
a virtual community can be said to have “gathered together” as the
priest recites the consecration for the communion elements – “Pour out
your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and
wine.” Those wishing to be offered the Holy Communion online believe
that the blessings can travel through the Internet to the comfort of
their homes,  especially since they have also prepared a table with the
wine and the bread; and they equally can light the candles online using
the virtual chapel. For them, sacrament offering in the new media age is
a thing of faith; same way people today solicit prayers on the phone
from their pastors. This contentious issue is expected to be up for the
final debate in 2016 when the church’s next general conference holds. It
will squarely be about the need to discuss the limits of online
community compared to real community gathered in a sanctuary. Since it
is a Wesleyan movement where the teachings of Christ holds, the answer
would lie in the answer to the question – What Would Jesus do?
Written by Sola Fagorusi
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