We live in a tweetable, sound bite driven age. Everyone is trying to get noticed in a noisy world, wanting to be retweeted, shared, and pinned. The bolder, more opinionated, more dramatic, and more controversial you are, the more you’ll get noticed.
The shorter your statement, the better.
As much as I love concise copy, this state of affairs does not encourage nuance or deep thinking most days.
In fact, the pursuit of the profound has led us to the trite and hyperbolic.
Hyperbole is all over Twitter and Facebook these days, and there’s not just bad communication. There’s bad theology—especially when it’s laced with guilt, judgment, or fear.
Offenders on Twitter this past week included:
“What you do in that split second between what was & what lies ahead is crucial. Don’t look back too long or you’ll get stuck – Lots’ wife!”
“Faith is risky, unbelief is deadly.”
Do you see the fear?
Do you see the bold immediacy?
How about the dramatic, eternal consequences?
Aren’t these Twitter winners?
By the way, did you also see “Lots’” wife? Were there two Lots in the story sharing one wife? I knew Sodom and Gomorrah were bad but…
The driving force behind these tweets isn’t love, freedom, grace, hope, or Gospel. God is tiny and unable to save us unless we heed the advice of the sound bite. The power is all rooted in the fear of getting stuck or dying—the latter being what basically happened to Lot’s wife. That is, unless she became a talking pillar of salt.
These read like bold, brave statements. People share them. They sound motivational.
DON’T GET STUCK!
TAKE THE LEAP OF FAITH SO YOU DON’T DIE!
Instead, they just serve to beat up weary people and pressure them without any hope that God can empower them to live differently or guide them. God is somewhere with his arms folded, waiting to see if we’re going to fall on our faces in sin, spend our days screwing around on Angry Birds, or read self-righteous blog posts by former English majors.
God is separate from us, using Twitter as his holy mouth piece to build his Kingdom by scaring his followers into obedience.
Sounds like Jesus, right?
Yeah, yeah… sarcasm.
These half-baked hyperboles turn every spiritual decision into a life or death matter with eternal consequences which then breed anxiety and bad theology.
Paul spoke of the love of Jesus being higher, deeper, and wider than he could fathom. John figured the world could not hold the books that would be written if he captured every detail from the life of Jesus.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Twitter or Facebook can be inadequate tools for communicating the hope of the Gospel or the love of God. They work great for quickly sharing information, but if we’re expecting a single tweet or status update to change someone’s spiritual direction, we may be asking too much of 140 characters.
You can’t save the world in 140 characters.
When God wanted to communicate the story of his love to us, he used millions of characters. Maybe we should take notice of that.