Facebook Theology: Lifting Each Other with a "Like"

"Hey! Look here!"

Sitting across the round table from me, John held up a camera.

Smile. Click. Flash.

"I have a feeling that will be on Facebook later," I said to my colleagues at the table.

I was right. Two days later, a red dot with a white number appeared on my Facebook page. I clicked on it and received this message:

John Moore tagged you in a photo.

John, who is now a district superintendent, once served as pastor of the two parishes I'm pastoring now. Judging by the 20 photos he posted on Facebook from our continuing education event last week, I'm guessing he also wears the "hat" of freelance photographer.

I browsed through the photos John had posted: clergy sipping coffee from styrofoam cups, Bishop Swanson talking with the guest speaker, Dr. Jason Vickers, and a room of 200 gathered at circular tables.

I found the photo that John had taken of me on the conference's first day. I laughed and rejoiced for two reasons:

1. My eyes were not closed.
2. My mouth was not open.

I started to close out the album when I noticed something else. To the right of the photo was a note that said, "Fourteen people like this photo."

For those of you unfamiliar with Facebook, you can click on the word, "like," underneath a photograph or other post. You can also write comments. I've done this with many friends' posts over the years, and I've received "likes" occasionally, too. With this photo, I was flattered to see that both old and new friends had taken time to make that click.

This morning, when I logged on Facebook again, I went to my page to discover that 37 people had "liked" the photo that John had taken of me. Some were from fellow ministers I'd just seen at the conference. Others were people I'd known since I was ten years old. Some were current parishioners. Some were past parishioners. I browsed through the list of people who'd taken the time to click "like" and gave thanks for each of them. I felt my spirit lifted by each of these "friends."

Social media has its perks and drawbacks, just like anything else in our technology-driven world. Facebook can lead to us getting caught up in our own worlds. Twitter can mess with our grammar skills. They can keep us connected across geographical distances. Sometimes, we can glean a little theology from them.

In the 37 likes and six comments on John's photo, I was reminded that a small act can affirm us when we least expect it. In the gospels, we see Jesus performing grand miracles. We also hear him speaking simple words of encouragement to his disciples. We see him in the everyday world, telling people that they're valuable, through his teachings. The Bible likely contains only a fraction of all the "good deeds" Jesus did in his lifetime. He was focused on lifting the spirits of others, even in simple actions, to show them how much they are loved.

This past Sunday at St. Luke UMC, our impromptu benediction came from Paul Thorn, who brought us a "gospel" lesson on last week's blog. The song I quoted is, "What Have you Done To Lift Somebody Up?" It echoes the message that a small "click" or act can make a big difference in people's lives. You don't have to do much to make a difference. You don't even need a computer to let someone know you "like" them. May we look for opportunities to lift up others instead of patting ourselves on the back. As Paul Thorn sings, "We can change the world with a little love."

Go lift somebody up. I'll go do the same. And thank you, John, and Facebook friends, for inadvertently lifting me up today.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian