20 July 2009

Facebook: A Practice in Humility

While Facebook is certainly a practice in gross narcissism and internet stalking, I'm also learning a little about humility from Facebook today.

Last night I quoted Nelson Mandela in my status in celebration of South Africa's recent Mandela Day efforts to eliminate poverty: "Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings." Several of my FB friends clicked "like," but my first comment came from a guy I know who quoted Matthew 26:11 to suggest that even Jesus believes we'll never eliminate poverty and that Mandela's "conclusion is unfortunately flawed."

My natural inclination was to delete said FB Commenter (known as FBC from this point forward) from my friends. I have been in circles with FBC in-person, but he was always more acquaintance than friend, and I never see him at all anymore since his move. We're not close; we're really only FB friends now. And I nearly yanked every strand of hair from my head during the presidential election whenever I read his status updates. I don't think FBC would be broken-hearted to lose me as a Facebook friend.

Alas, in the real world I cannot simply delete people to silence their voices. In fact, I'm against that very thing. I am reminded of how small and powerless I am. I'm reminded that God sees all of us the same--even those of us with bad theology. I'm humbly and gratefully reminded that my life is enriched by my friend Mary, who often disagrees politically and theologically with me. I would never delete her. My friends don't all have to think exactly like I do; I'm glad that they don't. Thank you FB, for helping me remember what grace and patience God has for all of us.

Of course, even after my moment of realization, I'm still considering deleting FBC. What can I say? I'm unfortunately flawed.


I appreciate this blogger I discovered who addresses the same Matthew text in a recent post if you're interested in hearing another theological approach to what Jesus might have been saying about the poor being with us.: No Such Thing as Silence.


gavin richardson said...

its cool, i've had many run ins with fbc. its the beauty where we can disagree, but not shutting out opposing opinions gives credibility to you in the long run.. plus it allows for a dialogue that is readable to your fans/friends/searchers that might not otherwise have been there. it can reach more than you imagine

MMS said...

I appreciate so much the frendship we have--it transcends differences which might normally divide.

I think the blog post you linked is the balanced approach to this discussion. After all, just because we will never truly be 100% holy in this fallen world doesn't mean we don't strive for holiness. We should definitely strive to eradicate poverty wherever we see it. The Matthew verse is not a free pass to do nothing.

I think you are right when you equate poverty with sin--I don't think it is sinful to be poor; rather, I think it is grossly sinful the way the poor are neglected, exploited, dismissed, and mistreated. And if all such actions were stopped, I guess poverty would be eradicated.

Great discussion, C! Lots of love!

Will said...

Lol... to paraphrase Mother Theresa (may she forgive me for this)...

"Only when we reach heaven will we realise how much we owe the FBCs.. for they taught us humility, patience, tact, and how to deal with intellectual and spiritual curve-balls in a spirit of love and openess"

I've had the following views expressed on MY facebook page:

"Why care about the environment and issues such as climate change.. isn't the world going to burn up one day and be replaced with a new one? Lets just get down the important business of saving souls!"

and my personal favourite

"all feminists are men-hating, anti-christian communists"