19 August 2011


I love facebook. I love how at the click of a button, I can know what's happening in the lives of so many individuals who surround me. That is probably my most favourite thing about facebook. At a click of a button I can know what is happening in the lives of friends, family, fellow church members and acquiantances. And yet I do realize also, that just like in almost everything, there are certain extremes to which we can find ourselves in using 'social networking sites' such as the one in question.

I'd like to think about facebook alittle in my post today, particularly the pro's and con's of using sites such as facebook, twitter, I now hear that there is google+ etc.

The Pros

  • A great way to keep intouch
I have already mentioned this as my most favourite thing about facebook. If you are in a church that has 300+ members, it is most likely that months will elapse without knowing what's happening in many of your fellow church members lives. This applies to family as well. Distant relatives, old schoolmates/college mates, workmates, acquaintances, you name it, can be kept close by using site such as facebook. At a click of a button all the updates from an assortment of individuals I know comes on my screen and within a few minutes I know what is happening in their lives. Within a week, I'm updated about almost everyone's life.

  • Communication
Many times, facebook has come to my aid in communicating with someone whose number I either didn't have or couldn't reach. Since everyone checks facebook a couple of times throughout the day, it is most likely that they will see the message. Facebook has been instrumental even to my church, particularly the youth ministry. The youth group leaders will communicate the activities for the meetings through facebook and many times, be able to communicate last minute changes.
  • Mutual Edification
One of the fantastic things about facebook is how that many Christians use it to share what they learned at church or in their devotions and many other people can comment and be mutually edified. Whether it be a theological question that is turning the wheels in a brother's head quite fast to no avail or a prayer item or praise item mentioned as a status update, facebook can be a real tool to edify the saints. Another great thing is the articles many users put up as 'notes'. Many Christians use this to share great thoughts with their fellow Christians and even non-Christians.

  • Assessment tool
I find that facebook is a good way to assess ones self. What/Who do you love most? What are you passionate about? What do you spend the bulk of your time doing, particularly free time? Do you rejoice when others are rejoicing and weep with those who weep? Do you pray regularly? Who are you closest friends? Is your life God glorifying? All these questions can be answered by facebook! Just take a look at your last 20 statuses, peep into your inbox, check out your picture albums. It is also a good way to assess your friends. Are they Christians? Are you helping them the best way you know how? You know what they put up on facebook and it is simply a reflection of what's happening inside.

The Cons

  • Chatting
If there was one things I'd want removed from facebook, it'd be the chat feature. Users can chat in real time. I once used chatting sites and applications a lot while I was in South Africa. I spent hours chatting with friends and family back home. I had very little to do there and very few friends, especially at the beginning but as soon as I got back home, I did away with it. People spend an unhealthy amount of time chatting, especially young people although I have noticed older people are falling prey to this. John Piper said this of facebook:

"One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time."

  • Facebook makes us sad?
I read a post recently on a blog I follow by this title. I had never experienced or heard of sadness wrought by facebook. The article said that people get depressed on facebook because everyone is trying to put their best foot forward and show just how much fun they are having in their lives. People compare this to the misery or 'average-ness' of their own lives and it leaves them rather sad. A bunch of people all lying to each other to their own peril. Well, I cannot quite relate to that but from the comments from the blog I read, it is a common phenomenon. And it is indeed unfortunate.

  • Aid to or replacement of fellowship?
I have already stated how that I love being able to keep abreast of the happenings in various people's lives via facebook. A pit fall I find myself falling into is that now that I know what's going on with them, I nolonger see the need in actually relating face to face with them. This is wrong. Nothing should take the place of fellowship, visiting brothers and sisters and getting together to have a chat. Facebook should aid fellowship, not replace it.

In conclusion, always remember:

"And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell..."
~Jesus Christ (Mark 9:45-47).

17 August 2011

Reality of Loss

Weddings and funerals have atleast one thing in common. Especially in the African context. Both have a lot of people. The bride and groom are surrounded by a large number of friends, family and acquaintances all celebrating with them. And yet in the hours that will ensue, they will be alone. The impact of this sudden change from being with so many people and then suddenly being alone, is something that is not felt and infact is actually 'oddly' desired. This makes sense, after all the couple can't wait to finally be alone for the first time ever, as husband and wife.

This, almost identical, impact is not cushioned when it comes to a funeral, however. The bereaved family during the days that lead up to the burial, is surrounded by so many people who lovingly mourn with and care for them. They do not have to worry about the cooking or cleaning. The burden of organizing for the whole solemn event is borne by so many that it is not felt so much by the grieving family. Hugs and tears surround those closest to the deceased and their pain subsides somewhat. A day or two after the burial however, everyone leaves. The bereaved must now face the reality of loss alone. After having more comforters than they could ever need, the bereaved family/individual is left with no one. The burial is done. Everyone leaves and moves on with their lives. Apart from the occasional call here and visit there, the overwhelming support experienced before is no longer there. It is then that the depression sets in and the reality of loss is really felt.

I could see this in the faces of my cousins who lost their mother, my aunt. Having gotten some days off work, I returned the day after the burial. When I got home from work, the once crowded and busy house was now empty and quiet. All the furniture was back in its place. The fires had been put out and the tents brought down. I went to the room at the end of the corridor and found my three cousins together. I had not seen them together like that since they all got home. I could tell, they were sad. And it made perfect sense. The arms that had carried them the past few days, had now gone. It was time to face this sad reality on their own. Fortunately for them, and I hope they realise this -at the very least, they had and still have each other.