Imagine if God gave you this task:
You are receiving a message that centers around three main claims: first, that someone defied death and rose from the dead, second, that he is Lord of everyone, and third, that everyone needs to change their lives and adopt a new identity and follow him. You need to get this message out to every culture in the entire world, and get them to believe it, and live according to what it claims. At first it will be dismissed by many people because it seems obscure, irrelevant, or ridiculous. Then, when it actually gains some traction, things will change, and it will be seen as a serious threat to ruling powers and public order. It will almost always be opposed by the rich, powerful, and influential.
A few rules for this mission:
- No social media. You cannot use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any of the new platforms that will come out in the future. And actually, you may not use the Internet at all. This message will spread completely apart from all that.
- In fact, we will do this without any recording or broadcasting of audio or video. You will not convert this message to any electronic form at all.
- Further, you may not use any transportation beyond the horse or sailing ship: no cars, trains, planes, or powered sea vessels. Nothing that moves faster than legs or wind can carry you is eligible to carry this message anywhere. Walking will be your primary mode of travel.
- You may not use electricity in any form. Nothing that is powered that way will be available for your use: no indoor lighting, no microphones, no sound systems, no computers, no printers, no smart phones, no cell phones, no telephones, no electric guitars. In fact, no modern instruments either. The sound of this movement will be the sound of unamplified human voices alone.
- You may not use a printing press. Handwritten copies of whatever you want to give away is all that is permissible.
- Finally, at first, you will not have the New Testament. You will have what the Apostles teach orally and your knowledge of the written Old Testament. You might want to hand write a few copies of that.
I am sure you’re getting the point here. If we imagine this task: “Spread a controversial message, using only your feet and your voice,” I think any one of us would immediately be tempted to say, “That won’t work.”
And yet, of course, this is exactly the situation the first Christians were in, all those years ago (as recorded in the book of Acts.) They labored under every single one of these “limitations.” And so, as we listen to people panic about the possibility that Christians might not have the use of this or that technology at some point in the future, should we be scared? Not at all.
The reason why we can answer this way is found, of course, in the things that the first Christians did have. And the most important, game-changing reality happened to them right away, as recorded in Acts chapter 2. The Holy Spirit Himself came–like the rush of wind and flames of fire–and indwelt them, and empowered them.
And that was all they needed.
The filling of the Holy Spirit, God’s power with them, was more powerful than social media, the internet, all modern communication devices, modern transportation, and electricity itself, combined. Jesus gave them the commission, and sent the Holy Spirit. That was it. Go to the ends of the earth, He said. And they did it. They spread the message around the globe. I am currently writing this at a distance of 5700 miles and two millennia away from where they started out, and their work is still bearing fruit.
Of course, when you stop and think about it, you realize that there were other things they had, too. Important things. They had actual inner healing, a deep sense of fulness, and purpose. They had boldness, and courage. They had hope and joy. They had real relationships (just read the book of Acts ). They had community–where things worked, and people were cared for, and real flesh-and-blood human life could be lived–marriage, family, friends, dinners, prayers, work, mission.
The world outside had no answer for these (very human) realties, let alone the divine power of God. And when all was said and done, it was lacking in exactly the things the Christians had. And the world today is lacking in those same realities. What we have, of family, and purpose, and life, and connection to God, is exactly what they don’t have. Sometimes they feel it, and sometimes they don’t. But they need those things, all the same.
And so, even if everything invented after the year 1000 AD were taken away from the church, that would not hold back God’s power, or stop him from working through us to do what He wants us to do.
We don’t need Twitter. We have God.