Do you “tweet”? No, I am not asking if you are a bird, but if you communicate on Twitter, a form of social networking on the Internet. Other forms include Facebook, Linkedin, blogging, texting, and e-mail.
Some critics of on-line social networking observe that in the impersonal realm of online communication, people can hide under made-up names. They suggest that social networking can hinder normal relationships by creating the desire to be on the Web instead of going out with friends. It’s also been said that since Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, habitually reading such short messages inhibits the expression of deeper thoughts and may even reduce people’s ability to comprehend them.
Of course just about every situation involves varying perspectives. You and I can go out for dinner, and talk about a good book, or about helping the unfortunate, or solving a local problem. Two other people can go to the same restaurant, at the same time, order the same thing, and yet gossip or plan to get revenge on another person. It’s not the location that’s the problem. It’s the quality of the conversation that matters. What’s vital to any social networking (the location) is how and why we use it.
When we speak, write, tweet, or e-mail from this basis, we will reach hearts all over the world.
Jesus may have been the ultimate social networker. He was always where he needed to be and spoke to everyone who was willing to listen. And he listened, too! He heard the cries of suffering people, and instead of ignoring them or just pitying them, he healed them! He was so full of God’s grace—the understanding that God’s love is for all. He knew that God is Love, and his prayer for others was based on this certainty that God heals.
I like to think Jesus “tweeted” a lot. Obviously not by using today’s technology, but he often just gave the needed nugget of information that healed. His “tweets” were short: “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:50) was what he told a woman the Bible describes as a sinner, and “Maid, arise” (Luke 8:54) were his words to Jairus’ daughter before he restored her life. Even his famous Sermon on the Mount, especially the Beatitudes, includes short, but powerful thoughts. Behind each of these and other phrases were hours of prayer and a depth of living that surpasses anything accomplished since his time.
This is the challenge for us. Can our conversations be short enough to gain the world’s attention, but deep enough to heal? Do we have the spiritual vigor that awakens someone’s interest and yet penetrates their fears or anxieties? This comes as we truly follow Jesus’ example. When a heart has the right combination of humility, love, and courage to say just enough to reach another’s heart, then we know we are communicating effectively. It means tempering one’s opinion, and letting God’s unconditional love shine through.
Paul called it “the fruit of the Spirit,” and gave these qualities of grace that make what we say and do worthy of being communicated: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” He also said, “Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23). When we speak, write, tweet, or e-mail from this basis, we will reach hearts all over the world. There is heart in words either spoken or typed with “the fruit of the Spirit.” They have the power of God behind them, and that breaks through worry, depression, or fear. It heals!
Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health is full of lines that inspire one so that fear, confusion, and worry disappear. One such line is, “Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (p. 454). What a “tweet”! Such words do have a huge impact on people’s lives.
As we share online the spirituality of our thinking and the Christianity behind our living, we will help transform lives and deepen human experience. We’ll have tweets, and other forms of social networking, that bless and heal.
Thomas (Tim) Mitchinson is a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Naperville, Illinois.