If you are like me then you have noticed over the last year or so a shift in the tone of online discourse. It seems as if there is more division than ever before. It seems as though we as a society are obsessed with consuming information and then giving commentary on that information. Here’s the problem though. The same information seems to be getting interpreted a number of different ways. And honestly these ways are usually at odds.
What has happened? Has communication always been this way?
I don’t think so. There seems to be something deeper happening. Something more profound is going on. What I believe we are witnessing is the New Babel. The undoing, by God, of the ability to communicate and understand one another. Why? Why would I suggest God is doing this? Well the answer lies in the ancient story from Genesis 11. You see there was a time way back when, when all of the people of the earth spoke the same language. That’s not different from today. Right now, social media has given us the unique opportunity to speak the same language. And more so than communicating in the same language, there is a universal knowledge that we all seem to have, at all times, about all things. In Genesis 11 there seems to be the same thing going on. All of the people have the same language and the same words and they decide to settle in a land as one people. At this point you’re probably like, “so what? What’s the point? Isn’t it nice that everyone has everything in common?” Well yes and no. Yes, it’s dope that everyone is getting along. Who doesn’t want world peace? But no, in the fact that their efforts are set on making themselves equal with God. Genesis 11:4 says, “Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”. You see the problem here is that these people didn’t want to submit to God’s purposes for the world. Namely that they were to spread the glory and fame of God over the entire earth, not themselves. Instead what they have decided is that they would not do that, but instead build a name for themselves and stay where they were at. So what does God do? He comes down, examines what’s going on there and confuses their language so that they can not understand each other, are thrown into chaos, and thus loosen their grip on control and by force are sent out to the corners of the earth.
What’s my point in this?
It seems that social media is the language and land that we have all settled in. Here we can make a name for ourselves, share our opinions, and build for ourselves a platform to elevate ourselves to the position of God. But God in his kindness seems to have scattered our language. We can’t understand each other anymore. What’s more is that even our best attempts at peacefully sharing an opinion is met with suspicion, arguments, and even hatred among people who are a part of the same family of God. What I believe we are seeing is a New Babel. We were never created to be all knowing and in all places at all times. We were not created to be so intimately involved with the political thoughts of someone 15 hours, and 2 time zones away, while ignoring your neighbors next door. We have become so obsessed with being right, having our voice heard, wanting to display our intellectual astuteness, that we have actually followed in step with the people of Genesis 11 to “make a name for ourselves”. Church we must repent and and take up the vocation handed to us from the risen Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 28 where he says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Oh that we would be a people who are more concerned with the souls of our non-believing friends rather than a social media presence! Oh that we would be a people who do not settle for the land of online debate and arguments and talking points, but who spread past the computer screen to go teach real people all that Jesus has done for us and all that He has to offer, namely complete joy and satisfaction in Him. May we be a people who find joy in the death of self for the sake of our neighbor’s prosperity, instead of clinging to our reputations and egos. I confess that this has often been me.
Here’s my prayer.
I pray that social media becomes lifeless and devoid of satisfaction. I pray that you would run to the holy scriptures and fall in love again with our God. I pray it would lead you to pursue real conversations, not about how you should vote, not about conspiracies, or “fake news”, but about good news! Good news that God is holy and just and we are not. We have not loved God as we should or our neighbors like ourselves. And for this deserve God’s wrath. But God in his kindness freely saved us. He wraps himself in flesh and lives the life God requires, and dies the death we deserve. And 3 days later defeats death, satan, and sin on our behalf. I pray that we would be people who are obsessed with this news and let Babel fall. For the glory of God and the good of our neighbors.