devozine

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I Want More

Gavin Richardson

devozine Candy Bar Ftr TSP 104299460I went to the store and bought myself a can of soda and some bite-sized candy. (They’re not actually long enough to be called candy bars, are they?) Then I took my purchases home and pulled up some music on my computer. As I listened to several minute-and-a-half songs, I also watched a few two-minute videos of people falling down and babies laughing. At the same time, I was constantly receiving and responding to text messages from my friends. Wow! This is the life!

Our love affair with technology and other modern-day conveniences has conditioned us to live in a snack-sized culture. We rarely even notice that our lives are being served up in snippets and tweets.

Yet, strangely enough, our snacking behavior never satisfies. Food comes in sample sizes that hook us. Then we feel bad because we eat a whole bag of snack-sized candy. We spend hours watching silly YouTube videos or short cartoons on Adult Swim, and then we wonder what we did with our day.

A snack culture takes little investment. We don’t have to invest in a show, a story, or its characters. We don’t have to invest in a musician and his or her full body of work and talent. We don’t have to invest in people and all their troubles because we can continue to call them friends on a surface level of 140 character tweets, quick photos, and status updates. No wonder we feel lonely!

 

An Investment in People

Luke 19:1–10 tells the story of Zacchaeus. What the story omits is how much energy Jesus pours into building a relationship with Zacchaeus and being a guest in his home. In biblical times, being a guest required preparation and participation. Even if Jesus had Twitter or Facebook, I believe he would have chosen a face-to-face encounter rather than sending Zach a message to say that his household was forgiven.

Scenes of Jesus’ stopping and taking notice of individuals appear throughout the gospels. Count the personal interactions. Do they offer a clue about what is important in the way of following Christ?

Our snack-sized culture isn’t horrible, but it does have a negative impact on us. We sit alone in our rooms with our computers and bags of candy. We aren’t satisfied with snacking, and we’re lonely all by ourselves.

Following Jesus Christ means making an investment in the people and the ministries of God. Small nibbles do little to heal the world. Leaving our cell phones at home—with our instant access to the snippets of people’s lives—and spending time with real flesh-and-blood people is one way to practice the presence of Christ in our lives. It allows us to be genuine friends and to discover the depth of friendship. We can also spend time and energy on being present to God, creating space for listening to and having our hearts changed by God.

 

DIG DEEPER

So how do we make the change? Here are a few ideas:

  • Today, tomorrow, and every day from then on, make a practice of having at least one meaningful conversation with another person. Sit down with a parent or sibling and talk about your deep concerns and joys. Visit a friend at home; spend some time with him or her—without a cell phone or computer to detract from the conversation. Talk with a teacher or coach; ask about his or her goals for you, the class, or the team.
  • Look up “Holy Listening” online. Practice holy listening as a way of being with your friends and family.
  • Search the scriptures. Read about some of the personal interactions Jesus had with people. Imagine how much time they spent together and what they talked about. Pray for strength and wisdom to see and act on opportunities to experience the presence of Christ in your life.
Gavin Richardson , “the short one” of the duo at YouthWorker Circuit and the Director of Youth Ministries at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, tries not to live a snack-sized life in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (January/February 2013). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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