Facebook, the Bible, and the Metamorphosis of Reading

Written words aren’t what they used to be.

I had a conversation with a friend recently that led me to an epiphany (no clue what that word means, but I like the way it rolls off the tongue). The power of the written word has taken on a completely new meaning over the past few years, and we had better take notice. 

For hundreds—even thousands—of years, the written word has been a source of education. From the earliest inception of hieroglyphs and alphabets, writing has been used to record history, thoughts, ideas, and facts. Because of this, literacy has always offered power. During the Dark Ages, the Catholic church became powerful because only the priests could read the Latin Vulgate. This variance in biblical literacy caused a great divide between priests and the masses. When the masses gained access to the written Word, revolution ensued. The value of words, particularly the written word, can in no way be overstated in the scope of history.

But now, words have changed. With each passing day, a metamorphosis of sorts is taking place on colorful screens around the world. Words are being typed. Messages are being exchanged. Relationships are being formed. And with each tap of the QWERTY, words and the way we read are forever changing. Why? Because now there’s a person on the other side of the page. Written words used to be inked for purposes of recording, because there was no one on the other side of the rock or the papyrus. That’s why you don’t see any emoticons on the Dead Sea Scrolls or comment sections at the end of the heiroglyphs. And I highly doubt God carved any smileys at the bottom of the Ten Commandments.

But now, there is someone on the other side of the page, waiting for me to write my line and press send. Then, I wait for them to do the same. In so doing, the written word has become a dialogue rather than a monologue. And this metamorphosis has changed the way we view the written word altogether.

People are not reading for merely informational and educational purposes; we are now reading for RELATIONAL purposes.

And with this metamorphosis, the power of the written word is forever changing. Access to words now means not only educational power, but relational power. The written word now creates friendships, as one word responds to another word. The written word now creates love, as words on a screen ignite passions that were once only ignited by face-to-face contact and interaction. The written word is more important to young people than driving or learning to ride a bike, as today’s youth are more inclined to want a smartphone than a driver’s license. Why? Because the relationships that were once forged by driving to a friend’s house, party, or gathering, are now formed in text messages, forums, and social sites. The information highway has replaced the concrete highway as a means to friendships, relationships, human interaction, and face-to-face bonds.

Is it scary? Absolutely, because it’s powerful. So powerful, in fact, that these instantaneous, written-word relationships can cause entire nations to be overthrown in a matter of hours by men and women who have never seen one another outside of online profiles and typed interactions.

But, in the educational-to-relational shifting of words, I see a great opportunity, particularly with the Bible, because if we are now using words for relational purposes, then there are no better words to read than the biblical words.

In fact, the Bible was way ahead of this cultural metamorphosis. It has been using words to create relationships for thousands of years now, long before Twitter, Facebook, and eHarmony. The Bible is filled with words written specifically for THAT PURPOSE—the purpose of creating a relationship.

Maybe we’ve been looking at it wrong for years. Maybe we’ve been reading for information when we should have been reading for a relationship. Maybe now we can see these words for what they are truly meant to be—a means to God—a means to THE God. They give us access to His ways, His history, His commands, and His love. They allow us to see who God is, who we are, and who we ought to be. They allow us the opportunity to create a true, deep, lasting relationship with The Author.

Maybe, just maybe, we can begin reading the Bible the same way we read Facebook—to connect with the person on the other side of the page.

Keep Reading…
5 Reasons I Haven’t Left The Church
WHAT’S MY LINE? the loss of personal convictions
When Faith Gets Messy

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