The Ultimate Social Network image

The Ultimate Social Network

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Do you remember life before Facebook? It might feel like the social networking site has been with us forever, but it only launched in 2004, and initially could only be accessed by undergrads at Harvard. Today, Facebook has more than 800 million active users.

If nothing else, the success of Facebook demonstrates that humans are compulsive communicators. This is why technology that aids communication is always a success, whether it is the invention of the telegram or of text messaging. That we feel a deep need to communicate is obvious – but why we feel it is the interesting question. Our desire for communication is demonstration of a deeper desire: a desire for relationship. Each one of us wants to have friends and feel part of a family, and a key element in this desire is our need for social approval. We want to be ‘liked’; we want to be ‘friended’.

However, we have a problem, in that pretty much as soon as we start communicating we run into misunderstanding. And then instead of friendship and family and social approval we end up in gossip and argument and ‘unfriending’.

All these elements are present in the Christmas story.

At the heart of the Christmas story is something that needs communicating: “Mary was found to be with child.” But this is news that gets a negative reaction – what is Mary doing getting pregnant? For an unmarried Jewish girl this was the ultimate expression of relationship gone awry. It is easy to imagine the comments, “God did it you say? Yeah, right.”

The underlying theme of the Christmas story is broken relationship – not just between friends but between God and Man. Our desire for relationship is born of God creating us for relationship, with himself, and with other people. The brokenness of our relationships is born of our broken relationship with God. When the fundamental relationship goes wrong, all the others follow along behind.

The miracle of Christmas is that God wants to ‘friend’ us, and in order to do so experienced himself the pain of our brokenness. In the incarnation we see God making his place with us so we can find a place in him. This was why the angels sang: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men. The incarnation means that God was prepared to pay the price of being misunderstood, abused, condemned, and even crucified in order that he might reconcile us to himself. God, in Christ, has opened the channels of communication. He has created the ultimate social network.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity, pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel…Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.

The miracle of Christmas is that God wants to friend you. This is the most important relationship there is. There is nothing else likes it.

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