Building Community in an Age of Privacy

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now.  Building community seems like a buzz phrase these days.  Every church, business, borough, or city talk about building authentic community, a safe community or a supportive community.  It is almost like “insert your favorite adjective here” community.

Generally the word community implies that we have something in common, be it family colorful groupgeographical bounds, ideologies, interests, passions or goals.  The Latin root, according to Wikipedia, implies public spirit or shared in common.

I juxtapose that thought with the idea of privacy that is also a phrase we are confronted with regularly.  Nearly every business we encounter shares their privacy statements.  We get them from our medical offices, our credit card companies and banks, schools and more.

On the personal level we see postings about privacy on social media (a community) all the time.  I am sure you’ve seen them. Someone posts that as of this date they are stating that all they post on a social media platform is their own private property and they give no right to anyone else to use those thoughts or images, or anything about them.  Those are not the exact words but a paraphrase; please do not copy and post that to your site!

I find those postings comical, even if it were to be valid who is going to scroll through kazilions of posts each day that come across a newsfeed to find that one disclaimer?

More to the point though, I wonder why those people are on social media.  I am not extolling the values or faults of a platform.  I simply wonder why one joins a network that is intended to be a social community if privacy is their intent.

Those warning posts give me even more pause when it is posted by a Christian, someone who has surrendered their life to live for Jesus.  How did Jesus address the idea of community?

There are scores of “one another” commands in the Bible: love one another (John 13:34-35), be kind to one another (Eph 4:32), pray for one another (James 5:16), encourage one another (I Thes 4:18) , accept one another (Romans 15:7),  forgive one another (Ephesians 4:13) and many more.  (If you want to see more google “One another commands in the Bible.”)  What if we used social media platforms as a way to “one another” each other?

What if we took seriously God’s words to us in Matthew 5:13-16 (NKJV)?

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty salt-19016_1920again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

light “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

We are called to make a difference – to put our lives out there for others to see, to influence those around us to see Jesus and glorify God.  This doesn’t mean every post should be a Scripture verse. For me it means I need to be real on my social media platforms, admit I struggle but not lay out my dirty laundry.   Through those posts I want to season and light the way for others. It also means I don’t post things that will reflect poorly on others.

I think this is what makes an authentic, honest, supportive and healthy community of which  I want to be a part.  As a follower of Jesus my privacy matters far less than representing my Lord the best I can so others want to join our eternal community.

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