I write a weekly column for The Dallas Morning News as a contributor to their Texas Faith blog. This week we were asked, “What would Jesus tweet?“
The editor noted: “Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s provocative minister of culture, suggested this week that Jesus ‘used tweets before anyone else.’ What he meant was that Jesus made statements that were brief, punchy and full of meaning as a way of spreading his particular message of faith.” Then he asked us, “How would Jesus have viewed social media? What would Jesus tweet?”
Here’s my response:
Twitter’s 200 million users will send over 400 million tweets today.
Clearly, someone is reading all these tweets—when the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked last April, sending a message that President Obama had been injured in an attack on the White House, stocks instantly lost $134 billion. When it was discovered that the report was false, they recovered immediately.
Would Jesus use such an effective communication tool? He spoke to the masses from mountaintops and boats, synagogues and city streets. He used the rabbinic teaching techniques of his day and coined metaphors that are still employed today. (There was no such thing as a “good Samaritan” in his culture before his parable on the same.)
Since Twitter’s top five global markets are Indonesia, Brazil, Venezuela, the Netherlands and Japan, he would see the missionary value of this platform. And since analysts classify 40 percent of tweets as “pointless babble” and only nine percent as “pass-along value,” he would redeem the medium with divine revelation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) is far less than 140 characters.
Here’s what he wouldn’t do: stay connected all day. Jesus frequently made time to be alone with his Father. He sometimes spent a day in solitude. He knew that we must breathe in to breathe out, spiritually as well as physically.
But he used every means to reach everyone he could. He would have agreed with Paul: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).
So should we.