The Cathedral of Facebook
Posted by Tyler Kirkpatrick | 3/4/2020
Yesterday, I did something very brave.
I logged on to Facebook.
Okay, despite the scary things one can find on Facebook, it wasn’t bravery at all; it was just mindless habit. Just like nearly every other 21st-century human, I have a difficult time navigating where social media should or shouldn’t fit in my life. There are days when I’m inclined to give it up altogether (I’ve probably got more Luddite in my bones than not), but I’m not certain total removal from something so influential and important (like it or not) in our world is the best response, either. For most of us, social media is a swirling whirlwind of love and hate, good and evil, connection and isolation, information and misinformation, inclusion and FOMO.
Yesterday one of my friends posted something that irked me (I’m sure that’s never happened to any of you). So I did what any good Christian would do… I went to click that little ellipsis in the top righthand corner of their post so I could “Unfollow” them. I’ve been able to convince (deceive?) myself that this is a virtuous thing I’m doing; I’m not doing it to insulate myself from people who think differently than me, I’m doing it because it’s easy for me to get really judgmental when scrolling through my feed, so I simply remove the temptation to judge by Unfollowing it.
But then I got this nudging instead… pray for them.
If I sound pious, don’t let me fool you. I didn’t want to. And as I began to pray for them, I at first began with a sanctimonious and condescending prayer, “Lord, help them to see the truth [because apparently I can see all truth and they can’t]… they know not what they do [because apparently Jesus’ words on the cross when he is redeeming all of humankind could easily be my words when I’m scrolling my Facebook feed].” Fortunately, the Holy Spirit wasn’t going to let me off the hook so easily. “the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray… he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.”
I knew I didn’t get to pray a self-serving prayer that made me feel better, but one of humility that acknowledges my own limits, one of love that keeps in mind the sanctity of the poster as an image-bearer of their Creator.
Lord, I pray for _____________. Forgive me for judging them. I pray for our relationship. Thank you for whatever you are doing in their life right now. I don’t even fully know what to pray for them because I confess I’m so arrogant I think I have things much more figured out than they do. Whether they are far from you or much closer to you than I am, I pray that you would continue to draw them to yourself, and that this post would not drive a wedge between us, but somehow be a catalyst for drawing us closer. If there is truth in what they are saying that I have blinded myself to in being more certain than I ought, please give me the humility to hear that truth.
Even today as I logged on, I found myself in old habits of wanting to cast judgment. Discipleship is hard work! But I’m encouraged that God is at work everywhere in our world, empowering us and inviting us to be people who love and pray; that the holy places and cathedrals of prayer are not just in the conventional places of prayer, but that even (or especially) the mundane places may be holy places to pray… even somewhere as unexpected and unconventional as the Cathedral of Facebook.