It sort of goes without saying these days that social media avenues such as Twitter (and Facebook) allow for serious innovation. Twitter lends itself to instant global conversations, sometimes with a few and sometimes with thousands (just watch Twitter Trending Topics for 10 minutes). With all this innovation today, who would have thought that we could be mirroring some characteristics of an ancient civilization? What civilization am I referring to? None other than….the 1st century Church (yeah, 2000 years ago). “Whaa?” you say. Yeah. Don’t believe me? Check out a few verses from a section in the book of Acts, which most scholars believe was written around 62 A.D. (right before the fall of Rome in 64). Here is The 1st Century Church….And Twitter!
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles. Acts 2:42
Today, we see people sharing biblical truths via Twitter and Facebook. Some of them are outright Scripture (like from King James, one of 13 Twitter Types). Others are thoughts or quotes that have both intended and unintended Scriptural elements in them (like 20 Tweetable Truths). Still other Tweets and FB updates tell stories or share experiences that show a person’s devotion to the Scriptures. In the area of sharing Scripture, it’s crazy to see the similarity of the 1st century Church and social media.
They devoted themselves to prayer. Acts 2:42
Several weeks ago on Twitter, a guy named John asked me to pray for him as he was looking for a job and at a big time low. I sent out a tweet that said, “Who will pray with me for my friend John who is looking for a job and needs encouragement?” Within a couple of hours, I had over a dozen people commit for one week to pray for John’s spirits to be lifted and for a job. Barely a week later, a position with incredible influence opened up for him in the most random of places. Coincidence? Maybe. I believe, however, that those prayers shared through Twitter were answered, and John is different as a result of his faith to ask for prayer.
They met together in one place. Acts 2:44
I realize that in this context, the verse meant one physical place, but this was the culture of the first century A.D. People lived in close proximity with one another and rarely traveled or communicated abroad. Now, most of us are all spread out yet still have the ability to “meet in one place,” especially with social media tools like Twitter. In the same way that Roman roads made it possible for the gospel message of Jesus to be quickly spread, Twitter allows us to “meet in one place” while being in a million different places.
They had everything in common. Acts 2:44
Another version translates this verse, “They shared everything they had.” I’m no Bible scholar (I’m actually a cemetery, I mean seminary drop out, ha), and I’m not trying to take the verse out of its context. I do gather here though and throughout the Scriptures that the 1st century Church shared everything with one another. Today, we see some of the most influential people in the world sharing everything about their day and lives on Twitter. People on Twitter have everything in common with one another like never before!
They sold their possessions and shared the money with those in need. Acts 2:45
In the last month, I have personally witnessed the following take place through posts on Twitter and/or Facebook: a family on the streets was provided clothes, food, and shelter by eight different people (How Twitter Helped Save a 3rd Grade Girl), twelve different meals were provided for sick people, people showed up to serve food and supplies to 200 refugees. Uh…wow.
I’m not suggesting that social media is a replacement for being a part of a church. I am, however, suggesting that much of what we see through social media resembles much of what we know of the 1st century church: a people that shared Scriptures with one another, prayed for one another, met together in one place, shared their lives together, and helped one another when in need.