We live in an age of 140 characters. That is how many characters one is allowed to use in a tweet on Twitter. Modern day cultural sociologists point to the development of social media as one reason that we are fast becoming a culture that wants everything boiled down to the bare minimum. Ideas and the communication of ideas need to be done quickly and efficiently. According to some of my friends who live in the Eastern part of the world, this is proving especially troublesome. The Chinese language has over 54,678 characters, of which 2,600 are essential to effective communication. Before we gasp in despair, the English language boasts an estimated 1,025,109 different words with about 600,000 in regular use. Greek, the language of the New Testament, has over 5 million different words. Researchers tell us that the average human, for whom English is a first language, has mastered and regularly uses about 100,000 different words to communicate. That means we are expected to use less than 1/10% of our total capacity to communicate. Like your coaches, teachers, and parents always said, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Many bloggers, religious commentators, and preachers try to summarize the essence of Christianity. Isn’t Christianity all about loving our neighbors and even loving our enemies? Certainly, all of us can attest to the ultimate reality of living with hate in our hearts. Hating or not loving others is a tomb. Tombs are not the place for Christians. When we hate others we are allowing our fears to control our lives. We feed that fear with constant attention and the inability to live into the calling of a resurrection people.
Isn’t Christianity all about forgiveness? Yes! There is a kind of resurrection that happens in our life when we easily forgive. For those of us living under a failure to be forgiven or inability to receive forgiveness, it can be a very dark and confining place in which to live. Of course, the sin of hurtful statements or deeds can change the dynamics of a relationship, but an unwillingness to forgive and accept forgiveness is itself a disease that robs us of the joy of life. Our minds become consumed with brokenness rather than the relief of healing and forgiveness.
Isn’t Christianity all about healing? Yes, most definitely! Physical illness, mental torture, and addiction are stone tombs that coax us into a state where we define the world by our pain. Being healed is not just a relief of suffering, but it is a suggestion of possibilities. The New Testament always joins the relief of pain to an opportunity of new life, an occasion to service and a moment to consider new possibilities for a life reclaimed.
Of course, none of these answers are really given justice in 140 characters. Especially since the true essence of Christianity is about following Jesus. Christianity is about becoming a disciple of Christ. Like the first disciples, following Christ introduces us to love, forgiveness and healing. It is a whole new way of living life. Rising out of the waters of baptism is the moment when we step out of the tomb with Jesus. It is the moment when we are introduced to what it means to be a Christian. It is a new way of doing everything. It is a new way of being. It is a new way of thinking. It is a vastly new perspective on the possibility of living a life that glorifies God, honors Christ and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is a new life. Unfortunately, that description is way over the 140 characters allowed.
“Christianity is all about leaving the tomb with Jesus.” That was only 55 characters. Does that work?